090 – Ken LaZebnik (A Prairie Home Companion, Touched By An Angel)

Ken LaZebnik is the founder and director of the Master of Fine Arts in TV and Screenwriting program at Stephens College, a low residency program based in Hollywood, which aims to increase the number of female writers working in Hollywood.

Ken writes for television, film and the theater. His work includes collaborating with Garrison Keillor on Robert Altman’s last film, A Prairie Home Companion, and many years of writing and producing for hour-long television dramas, including seven years of writing and producing the drama Touched By An Angel. Two of his plays have won citations from The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA). His first book, Hollywood Digs: An Archaeology of Shadows, was published in 2014 by Kelly’s Cove Press – a collection of essays about personal encounters with Hollywood history.

LaZebnik’s feature work includes the Lionsgate film Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage, released in 2008, starring Peter O’Toole and Marcia Gay Harden. His television writing has also included Army Wives, Providence, Star Trek: Enterprise, and the new series When Calls The Heart on the Hallmark Channel.

Ken’s plays have frequently been premiered at The Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, directed by Jack Reuler. The most recent of these collaborations was On The Spectrum, which premiered in November, 2011. On The Spectrum was awarded a Steinberg Citation from the American Theatre Critics Association, and had a successful run in Los Angeles at the Fountain Theatre. Other plays Mixed Blood has premiered include Vestibular Sense, League of Nations, and Calvinisms.

His play Rachel Calof, adapted from the memoir of a Jewish homesteader in North Dakota, is a one-woman show starring Kate Fuglei. His play Theory of Mind, commissioned for young audiences by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, has also been produced in Minnesota, Hawaii and Michigan.

Follow Ken on Twitter: @KenLaZebnik.

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Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,200 TV writers and writers’ rooms. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

 
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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information on the web.

089 – Mike Alber (Kirby Buckets)

Remember Mike Alber’s incredible story in episode 035? Well, hold on to your hats, because he’s got a lot more to share in this follow up interview! How did he go from zombies to cartoons? Read on and watch!

When we last caught up with Mike Alber, he and co-writer Gabe Snyder were staffed on MTV’s Death Valley. When it didn’t get renewed, they took a lot of meetings around town, but nothing seemed to click. It was a general meeting at Disney XD that would take their careers in a whole new direction.

Mike tells the incredible story of how he and Gabe wrote and shot the pilot for Kirby Buckets, and when it didn’t test well, Disney XD actually gave them the chance to do a rewrite and shoot it again with different actors! Not only did the second pilot fly, but Disney XD ordered 20 episodes in the first season, and 26 episodes for the second.

Mike has a lot of practical advice for both upcoming and working writers, based on several more years experience under his belt, and staffing his own show.

Make sure you watch his previous interview in episode 035 as well, as he went into great detail about his unique path in to the industry, as well as tips on idea generation:

Follow Mike on Twitter: @malber or @malber2000.

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

 
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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information on the web.

088 – 2nd Smartest in the World Rick Rosner (Jimmy Kimmel)

What would you do if you were ranked among the top 3 smartest people in the world? This week’s guest, comedy writer Rick Rosner, is sure to surprise you with his answers!

Rick G. Rosner is not your typical genius. From attending high school not twice, but three times, to working as a bouncer and nude model, Rick has taken a very atypical path to becoming a TV writer.

From his first opportunity writing for an MTV show in 1987, to a large number of clip shows, comedy shows and pilots, to a long stint with Jimmy Kimmel, Rick has worked in many forms of comedy writing.

Be sure to watch to the end, when he shares many helpful tips on breaking in to comedy writing.

Follow Rick on Twitter: @dumbassgenius

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

 
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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information on the web.

087 – Hand of God Creator Ben Watkins

Ben Watkins moved 14 times by the time he graduated high school. As a kid, his experiences ran the gamut from living in a fancy, gated community, to being homeless and sleeping in a 1976 Ford Monarch. He was married and had a family by the time he graduated college.

Before he turned to writing, Ben had worked more than 30 jobs ranging from plastics salesman to paralegal to soap opera stud. With such an eclectic background, it’s no wonder he has emerged as one of the most original storytellers in television.

Watkins began the transition to writing with the award winning Sundance short film Quest to Ref, which he wrote, co-directed and starred in. Soon after adapting that project into a feature screenplay for Universal, Watkins joined USA Network’s Burn Notice. He rose from staff writer to executive producer, before moving on to create the provocative Amazon Originals series, Hand of God. Watkins recently completed production on season one of Hand of God, which premiered this month.

Ben resides in El Segundo, California, with his wife and four sons.

Follow Ben on Twitter: @_benipedia_

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

 
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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information on the web.

086 – Bill Taub (Automatic Pilot)

Bill Taub has written and produced hundreds of hours of television over several decades, including many pilots that have gone to series. His new book on TV pilot writing, Automatic Pilot, is an indispensable tool for your arsenal!

Bill Taub is a native New Yorker who’s gone from Forest Hills to Beverly Hills. He has been obsessed with television since he was five, and considers himself a student as well as a participant in the medium. He came to television writing through advertising, as a writer-producer, Clio winner, and creative trouble shooter at several New York agencies.

His decades of experience in the industry have included both drama and comedies, including such hits as Barney Miller, Hill Street Blues, Newhart, and Cagney & Lacey. Pilots he has written that have gone to series have included Friday the 13th: The Series, The Odyssey, and Relic Hunter.

The more he studies the work of those he admires most, the one thing that becomes apparent is they either didn’t know all the rules, or they ignored them. It’s their originality, their uniqueness, that have made their work such a tremendous success. Whether it’s the work of David Shore, David Kelley, David Milch, or Larry David (the confederacy of “Davids” as he calls them), they didn’t know what they weren’t supposed to do — or didn’t know what they didn’t know.

Recently, Bill distilled the system he created and developed for his UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Workshop into the book Automatic Pilot.

Bill splits his time between Los Angeles and Toronto, where his wife’s family resides. He keeps himself busy with half a dozen other projects, pilots, web series, consulting, as well as occasionally teaching online thru the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and the Laugh Factory.

Follow Bill on Twitter: @BillyTaub

Buy Bill’s book: Automatic Pilot

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

 
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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web.

085 – Comic-Con San Diego 2014 – How to Write a TV Pilot

Couldn’t make it to Gray’s ‘How To Write a TV Pilot’ panel at Comic-Con this year? No problem! Here is the complete video, including Q & A.

CONTEST/EXTRAS LINK: http://tvwriterpodcast.com/pilot

Have you ever thought of a perfect idea for a TV series? Find out how to write it! Gray Jones (Host, TV Writer Podcast, Partner of Script Magazine) moderates a discussion and Q&A with powerhouse panelists Jen Grisanti (Writing Instructor, NBC’s Writers on the Verge), William Rabkin (Author, Writing the Pilot), Bill Taub (Author, Automatic Pilot), and Carole Kirschner (Director of the WGA Show Runner Training Program). Get that idea from your brain to the screen!

PANELISTS:

Jen Grisanti (@JenGrisanti) – Story/Career Consultant, Author (Story Line: Finding the Gold In Your Life Story, TV Writing Tool Kit)

William Rabkin (@WritingThePilot) – TV Writer, Author (Writing the Pilot, Successful Television Writing)

Bill Taub (@BillyTaub) – TV Writer, Author (Automatic Pilot)

Carole Kirschner (@Carole_POTL) – Director, WGA Show Runner Training Program, Author (Hollywood Game Plan)

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

 
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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web.

084 – Francis Tapon (The Unseen Africa Documentary Pilot)

Author, Harvard MBA grad and world-renowned backpacker Francis Tapon is on a 4-year journey to all 54 African countries. How can he turn this into a 4-season TV series? By going a non-traditional route, of course!

The TV landscape continues to divide into thousands of channels, and it seems there’s a new online distribution player every month. More channels means less advertising per channel, and budgets are shrinking. Higher budget shows may be in trouble, but there’s a veritable gold rush for independent producers who can produce great content more cheaply. The challenge is that the funding models are different, and very few have a handle on the best strategy to stay ahead of this rapidly changing field.

Francis Tapon, a successful author and world traveler, has a promising idea for an episodic documentary series. But like Corinna Mendis, who shot her own scripted pilot, Francis has decided to forego the traditional pitch process and produce a full pilot himself, assisted by a Kickstarter campaign for part of the budget.

Will he be successful? Is this a viable path to getting your own reality or documentary series off the ground? Find out on this week’s podcast!

A little more about Francis:

Francis is a world-renowned author and world traveler, author of The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us and Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America.

He walked across America four times: he thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 2007, became the first to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. In 2009, he was one of the finalists for the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, which “features nominees who are world-renowned for their skills and who have helped inspire thousands of others to take part in the great outdoors.”

Though he speaks several languages due to his South American and French ancestry, Francis hails from San Francisco.

More info on The Unseen Africa Kickstarter campaign: CLICK HERE

Follow Francis on Twitter: @ftapon

Francis’s blog and website: francistapon.com

The Unseen Africa website: theunseenafrica.com

You can watch this podcast in full 720p on YouTube!

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

 
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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web.

083 – Creator/Showrunner Hilary Winston (Bad Teacher, Community)

Hilary Winston is the creator and showrunner of Bad Teacher, which premieres April 24 at 9:30 pm on CBS! Gray Jones caught up with her a few days before the premiere.

In the interview, Hilary has great tips on career development and networking, as well as writing, pitching, and selling pilots. She also has a fascinating personal story… how she started as an intern at the White House in the Clinton administration and ended up writing comedy in Hollywood… how even after writing scripts on a writing staff, becoming an assistant for several years was the best thing for her career.

Hilary’s official bio:

Hilary Winston is an author and writer/producer of television and film. Prior to developing and executive producing Bad Teacher, Winston wrote for network and cable television series, including the Emmy Award-winning comedy My Name is Earl, Happy Endings, and Community.

Winston expanded into novel writing and is the author of a dating memoir, My Boyfriend Wrote a Book about Me, which she adapted as a movie for Paramount Studios. Also, she pens a monthly column for Playboy Magazine.

Winston began her writing career by getting people coffee at various places like National Public Radio and Hollywood Squares. She can now proudly say someone else gets her coffee. Unfortunately, she doesn’t like coffee.

Winston grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas. Currently, she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and her cats, Lolly and Gordon.

Make sure to watch Bad Teacher Thursdays at 9:30 pm on CBS!

Follow Hilary on Twitter: @hilarywinston

You can also watch this podcast in full 1080p on YouTube!

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

 
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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web.

SPECIAL: Lisa Alden Intro to Power of the Pitch

Informative introduction to Lisa Alden’s “Power of the Pitch” workshops – learn how to pitch your original TV pilot from somebody who has sold every one in the room! Even if you plan on writing it on spec, learning how to pitch it will exponentially develop your project and save you months of writing wasted drafts.

Are you in LA this Saturday, April 19, 2014? Sign up for the 2-day Power of the Pitch seminar ASAP! The second day will be May 4th. Pay only $245 if you register by tonight, April 15th. After that the price is $275. Get the details on Lisa’s blog: lisaaldenme.tumblr.com

About Lisa: after a successful career as a movie executive (New Line, Universal, Fox) Lisa joined the second season writing staff of “entourage.” After staying there for four amazing years, she moved on to a short-lived NBC show “Lipstick Jungle.” It was during the WGA strike (that interrupted that show) that she made the decision toto start writing her own pilots. In the last few years, she has sold every show that she’s pitched – to Fox21, HBO, MTV and ABC Family. As she continues to pursue her created by” dream, she enjoys teaching other writers how to create their own original pilots and develop the confidence to pitch them. Lisa teaches TV writing in the Professional Program at UCLA, and teaches her successful “Power of the Pitch” workshops at various locations around Los Angeles. She also works one on one with writers in both mediums of television and screenwriting. If you live in West Hollywood and see a tall skinny girl with four crazy dogs and an Urth Cafe coffee cup walking around, that’s probably her. Happy Writing!

Follow Lisa on Twitter: @LisaAlden3

Bookmark Lisa’s blog: lisaaldenme.tumblr.com

You can also watch this podcast in full HD on YouTube!

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web.