Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 4/17/14

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

  • Felicia Day (the Queen of Interweb Series) is developing a paranormal type thriller series for Hulu with Bryan Singer. (And since Yer Friendly Neighborhood munchman is a huge fan of Felicia’s, the fact that I don’t trust anything with Bryan Singer’s name on it isn’t gonna stop me from watching.)
  • Frank Spotnitz (TRANSPORTER: THE SERIES) has a new overall deal with Tandem Productions for the usual development stuff. (Anyone notice how much better a writer-producer Frank has become since moving his business to London. Guess he’s just gotta work a lot harder now to pay all those Brit taxes. Whatever it is, it’s a positive for viewers everywhere.)
  • Jeremy Dorner (THE KILLING) is developing RADIANT DOORS, based on Michael Swanwick’s short story, for WGN America. (Another “dystopian drama! Wowser, the munchie one can hardly wait – cuz fake dystopias are oh-so-much more fun than the real one we now live in.)
  • Christian Taylor (TEEN WOLF) is the new showrunner of the upcoming MTV “cyber thriller,” EYE CANDY, based on a book by the ever-popular R.L.Stine. (Watch out, fans. This is a complete retooling of the original pilot, which can mean only one thing: The powers-that-be don’t get whatever there is to be gotten from the original series of books featuring the character Victoria Justice.)

TVWriter™ Advanced Online Workshop

Yes it's true. Once upon a time we had our classes LIVE & you actually had to leave home to attend.
Yes it’s true. Once upon a time we had our classes LIVE & you actually had to leave home to attend.

Time to let everybody know that – as seems to be usual – we’re 7 days away from the first meeting of the 140th Advanced Online Workshop and – aw, you guessed – we have 2 openings left.

Come and get ’em! (And if you stick around for the 200th Workshop there’ll be a prize!)

All the info your could possibly need (or not) is HERE.


Justifiedby John Ostrander

SPOILER WARNING: I’m going discuss last season’s Justified which means I’ll talk a bit on what happened during it. If you intend to binge watch the show and haven’t done so yet, skip the column.

Last week, FX wound up its fifth season of the Elmore Leonard inspired series, Justified. It stars Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens, a supporting character and sometimes star of some of Leonard’s crime novels. You may not know all his books but a fair amount were made into good movies such Hombre, Get Shorty, 3:10 to Yuma, Jackie Brown and, as mentioned, the TV showJustified.

For those who don’t know: Elmore Leonard was noted for his spare style and his way with dialogue as well as his keenly drawn characters. Like Damon Runyon, Leonard liked the seamy side of people and expressed them with unique dialogue. In his essay, “Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing” he said: “My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” One of the other rules I found interesting: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” Sounds simple but, oh, it is not.

Justified’s main character, Raylan Givens, is a U.S. Marshal and something of a throwback. He’s a bit of a cowboy, wearing a Stetson and boots and liable to shoot first and ask questions later. He gets tossed out of Florida after telling a local mobster to get the hell out of Dodge, er, Miami. When the deadline Raylan sets arrives, the marshall provokes the mobster into drawing on him (in a public place) and shoots him dead.

The killing is ruled “justified” but Raylan’s worn out his welcome and he gets sent back to where he came from – Harlan County, Kentucky – and the Marshall’s office there. He runs into old friends, enemies, family, wives, and lovers, as well as picking up a few new ones along the way. One of the most notable of his friends/enemies is Boyd Crowder, played by the inestimable Waylon Goggins. Boyd’s character is from a short story Elmore Leonard wrote, Fire In the Hole, which featured Raylan. Boyd’s dead at the end of the story but he’s been too good a character to lose for the TV show so they’ve kept him around.

Each season has generally had a central villain as the Big Bad to unite the episodes and there have been some doozies. Boyd did that for the first season but the second season was really killer, with Margo Martindale doing an incredible turn as Mags Bennett, the matriarch of a local crime family. Down home scary. Both motherly and a monster.

The next season’s Big Bad is Robert Quarles (played by Neal McDonough), a cold nasty enforcer sent down from the mob in Detroit. Not only a nasty piece of work but ultimately a bit psychotic. He wasn’t quite as good as Mags but he was pretty bad ass and an interesting change of pace. Fourth season got a little complicated with the search for an old criminal Drew Thompson and Raylan contending with another Detroit mob enforcer named Nicky Augustine.

The first and second season were great; each succeeding season hasn’t been as good but still justified making Justified part of my mandatory viewing each week. Raylan is just so damn cool. The series borrowed heavily from Leonard’s novels and stories, adapting characters and plot lines to work for the TV show.

This last season — not so much. It’s been a slog to get through. The Big Bad was the Crowe family, specifically oldest thug Daryl Crowe Jr (played by Michael Rapaport). They’re the Florida side of the Crowe clan represented in Kentucky by Dewey Crowe, a Coyote style moron who has been in the show since the first season. With things petering out for them in Florida, they go to visit cousin Dewey.

The season is as much about Boyd Crowder’s attempt to get into the heroin trade and his wife, Eva’s, adventures in prison. In fact, it’s more about the Crowders than it is about Raylan. Therein lies a part of the problem. I simply didn’t care. It didn’t matter to me if Eva got shanked in prison. I didn’t care if she and Boyd got together again. Raylan wasn’t even particularly cool. The stories were all over the place and Daryl Crowe Jr. was just a thug. There seemed to be a lot less Elmore Leonard in the show and more of the showrunners trying to figure out how to be Elmore Leonard. They forget his dictum: “Try to leave out the part that readers (viewers) tend to skip.” There was a lot I wanted to skip this year.

It’s already been announced that next season will be the show’s last. We already know part of what’s coming – the final showdown between Raylan and Boyd. Who will live? Who will die? Who will care at this point? I’m not sure it will be me. I’m not sure if I’ll be back. And that’s not giving Elmore Leonard his due.


We admit it. TVWriter™ found the stat in the title of this post surprising. Cuz we thought it would be much higher:

survey3by Andy

Every month, reports condemn the general public for downloading movies and TV shows without permission, but perhaps those industries need to look a little closer to home. A new survey among film industry professionals suggests that almost 40% have downloaded movies and TV shows illegally.

Reports, research and surveys covering piracy-related issues have been released in their dozens in recent years, with many of them painting a picture of two distinct groups of people – those who illegally download and those who pay for content.

Of course, the reality is that many people who obtain content for free also cheerfully pay for content too. In fact, some studies have found that the entertainment industry’s best customers are also illegal downloaders.

But what if there was evidence to suggest that some of those pirates were actually the very people helping to create movies and TV shows? That’s one of the intriguing findings of a survey carried out by Stephen Follows, a writer and producer with a keen interest in discovering what makes the industry tick.

“Many of the decisions in the film business are based on gut, opinion and gossip so I find it fascinating to research the topics and see what the numbers say,” Follows informs TorrentFreak.

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FARGO isn’t a TV Series, “It’s a 10-Hour Movie.”

Believe it or not, the article below is the absolute first time that reading an interview with a showrunner or a star has made our Beloved Leader, LB, change his mind and decide to give a new series a try. So let’s put our hands together for…oh, um, reportage in the U.K. Yeah, baby:

Bob Odenkirkby Ben Arnold

This is a true story. In 1998, the current TV belle epoque not even a twinkle in the eye of the US networks, a pilot was filmed for a TV series of the Coen brothers‘ churningly tense black comedy Fargo, which had been released two years previously. It was the last writing and production credit for the late Bruce Paltrow (father of Gwyneth), starred The Sopranos‘ Edie Falco and was directed by Misery actor and occasional director Kathy Bates. Set in Brainerd, Minnesota, it featured Falco as police chief Marge Gunderson, the role immortalised by Frances McDormand in the movie. The Coen brothers were not involved. The project, though strangely enticing, fizzled out.

Then, in 2012, news emerged that another telly crew had taken an interest in the world of Fargo, beginning a slow drip-feed of information about the project that indicated very good things indeed. Firstly, FX, the maverick Fox spin-off network behind brooding dramas such as Justified and Sons Of Anarchy, would be making it. Writing would be Noah Hawley, a novelist and TV writer with a CV including crime comedy-drama Bones. More convincing still, it would not feature any of the same characters from the film, and was amassing an undeniably classy cast, including Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Colin Hanks, US sketch comedy dons Key & Peele, and Oliver Platt.

It was also being ordered “straight to series”, the holy grail in US TV’s cautious pilot system. Finally – the coup de grâce to any naysayers – the Coens themselves, unlike with the efforts back in 1998, had read it, liked it, and signed on as executive producers. The Coens’ blessing transformed the cautious optimism about the show into outright buzz. And here we are.

“Joel and Ethan read the first script,” says Hawley. “They were very complimentary about it. Then they saw the first episode when it was completed, and Ethan said ‘Yeah, good’. Billy [Bob Thornton], of course, has worked with the Coens two or three times. He said that ‘Yeah, good’ is like a rave review from Ethan.”

Hawley’s first conversation with FX, which was negotiating with rights owners MGM about making the series, went something like this: “OK, so you’ve asked me to create a television series. This is not a television series,” he says. “That got their attention, and I talked them through how I would approach it. It’s a 10-hour movie.”

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