102 – Spiro Skentzos (Arrow, Grimm, Chadam)

This week, host Gray Jones interviews writer Spiro Skentzos, who has written for “Arrow,” “Grimm,” and TV pilots, as well as “Chadam,” an animated web series he co-created.

This episode is sponsored by Pilar Alessandra of onthepage.tv. Pilar is offering a 10% discount on her online “Writing TV” class, which runs Saturdays from July 11 – August 1. To get your 10% off, use the coupon code onthepage10 at checkout.

Spiro Skentzos grew up in a multi-ethnic family speaking Spanish, Greek, and English – and the inevitable mash-up of Magical Realism and ancient mythology primed him as a child to fall hard for genre stories, the world-building fantasy of comic books, and Star Wars.

His first foray into screenwriting was as a young boy, when he wrote a script for his Star Wars figures where they battled his sister’s giant, menacing Barbie dolls—and he’s been writing ever since.

His professional career began in comedy on “George Lopez.” Then Spiro co-created and co-wrote the animated sci-fi/zombie web series “Chadam.” He’s written on two seasons on “Grimm,” a season on “Arrow,” and has sold 3 pilots.

To inspire the next generation of writers, Spiro created the “Intro to TV Writing” panel at Comic-Con, currently in its eleventh year. He’s a graduate of NBC’s Writers on the Verge Program, and co-chairs the WGA’s LGBTQ+ Committee. When not writing, he paints (on canvas, not houses), is learning French, and still enjoys reading comics. Follow Spiro on twitter @spirographo & IG @spirovisionproductions.

INDEX TO THE EPISODE:

01:29 – Interview start.
02:18 – How is the virus affecting you?
04:41 – His background, art history major at U of Michigan.
05:31 – Started as an assistant on the George Lopez Show.
05:44 – How he “almost” got representation air that time.
07:34 – How he made the shift to genre writing, and where his love of mythology and comic books came from.
08:44 – Co-creating, co-writing animated web series Chadam, trying to break into one hour drama. Agent horror story, and the spec that got him into NBC Writers on the Verge.
10:19 – 2008 writers strike was a setback, but NBC really pushed to get him onto a show, and he finally got on staff on Grimm.
13:02 – On developing and selling pilots and a feature, and then staffing on Arrow.
15:19 – Sponsors.
16:17 – All about Arrow.
18:01 – What he’s been working on since Arrow.
18:57 – Who his mentors have been – Erika Kennair, Karen Horn, others, and the importance of fostering friendships. Also how he mentors others.
22:18 – How and why he got started moderating panels.
25:49 – how he learned and hones his craft.
27:21 – toughest part and best part about being a TV writer. Turning bad experiences into a story.
31:08 – How Peak TV is changing TV writing… smaller staffs, shorter runs.
34:14 – His future plans.
37:45 – Tips for greener writers, general writing & career tips.

You can help with the ongoing costs of bringing these weekly podcasts to you by becoming a patron of the podcast – for as little as 25¢ per episode! There are many reward levels. CLICK HERE to find out more.

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – 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 1,200 TV writers. Find previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

PLEASE NOTE: we are now doing Tuesday releases, to line up with Script Magazine’s release dates.

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092 – Bob Goodman (Creator of The Zeta Project, EP of Elementary)

The TV Writer Podcast is back, and better than before! In our re-launch, host Gray Jones will be primarily interviewing showrunners and EP level writers. We’ll be moving away from the focus on the newbie writer, and aiming more at the oft-neglected staff to mid-level writer. There is now a dedicated audio-only feed at iTunes, Podbean, Spotify and coming soon to Pandora. You can access the video version via YouTube, iTunes, Podbean, and on the web at tvwriterpodcast.com. Follow @GrayJones on Twitter for updates on upcoming interviews, and be sure to subscribe, like, and post reviews on all of these aggregators. We’ll be bringing WEEKLY episodes every Monday during the stay-at-home order due to Coronavirus / COVID-19.

In episode 092, sponsored by Pilar Alessandra of onthepage.tv, host Gray Jones interviews Bob Goodman, winner of two Daytime Emmy Awards, creator of The Zeta Project, EP of Elementary and writer and Supervising Producer for Warehouse 13. Speaking of On The Page, Pilar is offering a 10% discount on her interactive online class, Writing the First Draft, which starts April 4th. To get your 10% off, use the code onthepage10 at checkout. 

Topics of discussion in the interview included: 

• What to consider when choosing college programs.
• Singing the praises of the Children of Tendu podcast.
• The 5 most important things to succeed in Hollywood.
• How to avoid getting pigeon-holed.
• How to pick the right jobs for your resume.
• Why he feels we need to purge “paying your dues” from our lexicon.
• The glut of Peak TV with 500+ shows — why it is more competitive than ever.
• Going from animated show creator / showrunner to 1 hour drama staff writer.
• About development at the EP level.
• About picking your battles with the network.
• How a show is staffed.
• Do’s and don’ts in staffing meetings.
• How your job is to get into the showrunner’s head.
• What needs to be on the page when staffing, and what is the kiss of death?
• On why taking the long view is so important when looking at your career.

If you are interested in breaking in, check out Bob’s other excellent interviews on episode 8 of the Creative Writing Career podcast, and on Storybeat with Steve Cuden.

Be sure to watch until the end, and listen for the contest code — if you follow GrayJones and tweet the contest code before Friday, April 3rd, you will be entered into a draw to win… 2 rolls of toilet paper! Other prizes may be added too.

Bob Goodman official bio:

Bob Goodman is a television writer-producer who most recently served as Executive Producer on the hit CBS TV series Elementary, and before that he wrote and produced on Syfy’s Warehouse 13.

Prior to his work in live-action, Bob wrote for many years in animation, primarily as a staffer at Warner Bros. His credits include Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond, Justice League Unlimited and Ben Ten; plus he created and ran the Batman Beyond spin-off The Zeta Project. He’s written web-series and videogames including the Dungeons & Dragons game Demon Stone, and several direct-to-DVD animated features including the two-part Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

Bob has received two Daytime Emmy Awards, as well as an Annie Award nomination for Individual Achievement in Writing. He currently has a pilot in development at ABC.

Follow Bob on Twitter: @b0bg00dman

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – 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 previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

Upcoming weekly interviews will include Sarah Watson (The Bold Type, The Goonies reboot), Arika Lisanne Mittman (Paradise Lost, Timeless), Michael Narducci (The Originals), and lots more!

PLEASE NOTE: ON THE FIRST VERSION OF THE PODCAST GRAPHIC, BOB WAS INCORRECTLY SHOWN AS EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF WAREHOUSE 13. THIS WAS QUICKLY CORRECTED.

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037 – Christopher Yost (Killer of Demons, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes)

This week we hear from another animation writer / story editor. Christopher Yost has been working on animated TV series, comics, and features for almost 10 years, for well-known Marvel and D.C. franchises.

After a number of years as an advertising producer in Detroit, Michigan, Christopher Yost decided he needed to make the jump to Hollywood. He attended the Peter Stark Producing program at USC, but realized while there that writing was really his passion.

An internship at Marvel Studios led to his first break, writing a script for Marvel’s animated property X-Men: Evolution. Soon he was writing such well-known titles as D.C.’s The Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and eventually became head writer and story editor on Fantastic Four, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, and The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

During this time he also wrote two animated DVD features, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, and Hulk vs. Wolverine.

Yost also works in comic books, writing for Marvel’s X-Men and Spider-Man franchises, DC’s Batman franchise, and the adaptation of the sci-fi classic Ender’s Game. His first creator-owned original graphic novel Killer of Demons debuted in March of 2009 to critical acclaim.

Yost is currently working in the Marvel Writers Program, helping develop potential live-action feature properties for Marvel Studios as well as handling additional writing and reshoot scenes for the Marvel Studios film Thor.

Follow Christopher Yost on Twitter: @Yost

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – 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.

036 – David Dias (Max & Ruby, Redakai)

Animation writer/creative producer/story editor David Dias was a hit on the TV Writer Chat several weeks ago, and is back for a one hour interview discussing all the ins and outs of writing animation for all ages, including many great tips on breaking in, pitching, and getting your idea off the ground.

After a BFA in film production from York University in Toronto, David started assistant editing at Nelvana, one of the biggest animation companies in Canada. He soon realized that he wanted to write, and landed a job on an in-house writing staff. For the next five years, he wrote for a large variety of shows, before becoming an independent writer-producer.

David has credits on over 40 animated shows from the mid-1990’s to the present, including such well known titles as Franklin, The Berenstain Bears, Doodlebops, Caillou, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Magi-Nation, Max & Ruby, and Redekai: Conquer the Kairu.

Breaking the usual chronological interview format, Gray and David spend almost a full hour talking about all aspects of animation writing, including how to know which companies are accepting open pitches, what you need to be able to pitch, how the quality of art can make or break a pitch, how to land an artist without having to pay up front, and much more!

Follow David Dias on Twitter: @DiasDave

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – 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.

025 – Karey Dornetto (Portlandia, Community)

Comedy writer & stand-up comic Karey Dornetto has worked on all kinds of comedy shows, from sketch to traditional sitcom, and many in between.


The daughter of a military professor and an ex-nun, Karey was headed for a life of financial trading before taking the plunge to join the sketch comedy group The Perch, in Charlotte, NC. Still working in finance, she moved to New York and began to perform stand-up comedy.

In New York, she wrote a story called “Fat Basketball Diaries” for the online magazine, Girlcomic.net. This story would prove to be a major turning point for her, as the response to the story convinced her she could become a writer. It also helped her land management in L.A., and her first TV writing gig, on South Park.

Moving to Los Angeles, Karey landed gig after gig on a wide variety of comedy shows, such as The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, Dog Bites Man, Arrested Development, Community, and her current show, Portlandia. She has a lot of great stories about her path through the industry, as well as her experiences with the different comedy and writing styles.

For more information and writing samples, visit her website at kareydornetto.com.

Follow Karey on Twitter: @KareyDornetto

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – 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.

024 – Courtney Lilly (The Cleveland Show, My Boys)

Comedy writer Courtney Lilly has only been in Hollywood 11 years, and yet has had tremendous success on a number of well-known sitcoms, including Arrested Development, Everybody Hates Chris, My Boys, and The Cleveland Show. You’re going to love his story!


Working as a journalist on the east coast, Courtney Lilly decided pretty quickly that journalism was not for him. He knew nothing about TV writing, but read everything he could about it, and got accepted to the Nickelodeon Fellowship’s first year, in 2000.

After staffing on the animated show Invader ZIM, Courtney tells how he ended up as an assistant to a lawyer in Encino. Though it seemed like he was far from his goal, he shares how “prepared luck” landed him an influential manager, who helped him land a staff gig on Arrested Development.

From there, Courtney goes into great detail about time on Arrested Development, Everybody Hates Chris, My Boys, and his current show, the Family Guy animated spinoff, The Cleveland Show.

He gives a lot of great tips on breaking in, including the wisdom: “Everyone takes bets … you might as well bet on yourself!”

Follow Courtney on Twitter: @CourtneyLilly

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – 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.