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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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.

074 – Beau Willimon (House of Cards)

From never being on a TV staff, to becoming the creator and showrunner of “House of Cards,” Netflix’s original foray into dramatic television and the corrupted world of politics… this week’s interview with screenwriter, painter, and playwright Beau Willimon is sure to inspire you!

Beau Willimon is a screenwriter, playwright, producer and most recently, an executive producer, showrunner and creator of Netflix’s original series “House of Cards,” a wicked one-hour drama, from Media Rights Capital, that slithers behind the curtain of power, sex, ambition, love, greed and corruption in modern Washington D.C.

His play “Farragut North,” became the basis for the motion picture screenplay “Ides of March,” which he co-wrote with George Clooney and Grant Heslov. “Ides of March” earned Willimon Academy Award®, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, and it won The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Award for Best Screenplay.

Other plays include “Lower Ninth” (Flea Theater, 2008; UK premiere, Donmar Warehouse, 2010), and “Spirit Control” (Manhattan Theatre Club, 2010). Subsequent productions of his plays have been mounted across the U.S. and overseas. Willimon was a recipient of the Lila Acheson Wallace Juilliard Playwriting Fellowship, named 2008 Playwright-in-Residence at the Donmar Warehouse, and he is a two-time winner of the Lincoln Center Le Comte du Nouy Award. Current theater commissions include works for the National Theatre of Great Britain, South Coast Rep, and the Flea Theater.

His most recent play, “The Parisian Woman,” premieres at South Coast Repertory in the spring and will star Dana Delany, Steven Culp, Linda Gehringer and Rebecca Mozo. The play was inspired by Henri Becque’s “La Parisienne.”

Recently Willimon co-founded Westward Productions, a film and television production company, with co-founder Jordan Tappis. Among Westward Production’s current projects is the forthcoming “Wally and Andre Shoot Ibsen” – a film adaption of Ibsen’s play “Master Builder” developed by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, directed by Jonathan Demme. Willimon is an Executive Producer on the film. Other projects in development include a documentary about adventure traveler Karl Bushby’s quest to circumnavigate the globe on foot over the course of two decades, and a documentary about Westerly Windina, a transgender Australian woman formerly known as legendary pro-surfer Peter Drouyn.

In addition to his career as a writer and producer, Willimon served on a number of political campaigns, including Chuck Schumer’s 1998 senate race, Bill Bradley’s 2000 presidential race, Hillary Clinton’s 2000 senate race and Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential race.

Willimon graduated with a B.A. from Columbia University in 1999 and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in 2003. A St. Louis native, he now resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Beau’s Twitter: @BeauWillimon

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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 1,000 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.

072 – Jeremy Smith & Matt Venables (Continuum)

Writing teams are popular in Hollywood, as they can give shows more bang for their buck. But are they popular in Canada? Find out as we meet Jeremy Smith and Matt Venables, a Vancouver-based writing team currently staffed on Continuum.

Born in Barrie, Ontario and living in Vancouver, Jeremy Smith graduated the Victoria Motion Picture School in 2000 and has been in the film industry ever since, thoroughly learning all aspects of production working as a Producer’s and Executive’s assistant on television series and feature films.

During the first season of Continuum, Jeremy was a Story Editor and co-wrote his first credited hour drama with fellow writer Jonathan Lloyd Walker. He also acted as the Creative director for the Continuum Transmedia Campaign.

Jeremy’s Twitter: @CaptainPunch

Matthew Venables’ love of music lead him to the world of film. Bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Public Enemy’s socially conscious lyrics inspired him to write poetry and song lyrics. After graduating from Victoria Motion Picture School in 1999, he moved to Vancouver and started directing music videos with fellow filmmakers Jeremy Smith and Troy Sitter under the “The Lollypop Kids” moniker. He has spent the past decade working on various TV series and Films learning the trade and crafting his art. After spending a year with the writing team of Continuum, Matthew’s writing talent earned him his first credited script assignment.

Matt’s Twitter: @palithean

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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 1,000 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.

071 – Vivi Anna / Tawny Stokes

What are your excuses for not writing? This week we meet Vivi Anna / Tawny Stokes, a successful novelist and screenwriter, who writes and publishes mountains of material while being a single mom and homeschooling her teenage daughter!

Vivi Anna is an award-winning Canadian multi-published author in paranormal romance, urban fantasy, scifi, and young adult under the name Tawny Stokes. Since 2003, she’s written and published close to 23 books for New York publishers such as Harlequin, Kensington and Avon. She’s also independently published several projects on her own.

Vivi is also a screenwriter and TV writer and is one of the co-founders of the weekly TV Writer Chat. One of her pilots, adapted from one of her books, was a finalist in both the Austin and Slamdance Film Festivals in 2011.

Vivi is excellent at time management, having accomplished all of these things while being a single parent and home schooling her children. In this interview, she discusses some of her secrets, as well as trying to break in to Hollywood from thousands of miles away, and her impressions of the TV Writer Chat pilot writing program so far.

Website: www.vivianna.net
Twitter: @authorViviAnna

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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 1,000 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.

068 – Jamie Livingston (TV Writer Chat Pilot Program)

TV Writer Chat is launching a new FREE pilot writing program, and today’s interview with screenwriter/novelist Jamie Livingston tells you all you need to know!

Jamie Livingston is a great example of how you are never too busy to write! Aside from working full time at the restaurant she owns with her husband, she has a successful jewelry business, publishes a mystery novel series under the pen-name Jamie Lee Scott, attends conferences, made a short film, and wrote several screenplays… and that was just 2012! On the novel front, her ‘The Gotcha Detective Agency’ mysteries include ‘Let Us Prey,’ ‘Textual Relations,’ ‘Death of a Sales Rep,’ ‘What a Meth’ and ‘Whine and Dine.’

Her short script, No One Knows, was produced this summer and will hit the film festivals in 2013. You can watch the trailer HERE.

She currently writes feature films and TV dramedy, and is a co-founder of both ScriptChat and TV Writer Chat. She is also the former president of the Romance Writers of America’s screenwriting chapter, Script Scene.

In today’s interview, Gray and Jamie go over all the details about the TV Writer Chat’s new FREE pilot writing program, as well as explaining about Scriptchat and TV Writer Chat, and some important fundamentals about how to write for TV. Make sure to sign up for the newsletter ASAP and join the chat on Sunday night at 6:30pm, as the program is already underway! CLICK HERE for an easy link to the chat room (Twitter account required).

Website: www.jamielivingston.com or www.jamieleescott.com
Twitter: @Jamie_LD
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jamie.JLD

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.

067 – LaMont Ferrell (Let’s Stay Together, Reed Between the Lines)

Acting, directing, writing, producing, teaching, stand-up comedy… LaMont Ferrell wears a lot of hats!

Originally from Philadelphia, LaMont Ferrell has been entertaining audiences for many years. He has performed for a variety of ages and ethnicities across the US, and around the world. A local magazine describes his act as, “Energetic, creative and original, but most of all just plain funny.”

After winning the 1996 Comic Relief Comedy Festival’s “Funniest New Comic” Award, he took his comedic writing talents to TV, and started writing for various sitcoms such as BET’s ‘Nothin’ But a Woman,’ the WB’s ‘The Parent ’Hood‘ and UPN’s ‘Moesha.’ He won The Media Projects 2000 Shine Award for a Moesha episode he co-wrote.

LaMont is a busy pilot writer, having had sales to the Fox Network, TBS, and the UPN Network. He also works in motion picture writing, having been hired to punch up the movie, ‘The Cookout,’ and is in pre-production for ‘Family Business,’ a film based on the true story of his family’s restaurant business in Philadelphia.

In 2003, LaMont formed his own production company, Just Jokes Entertainment, and produced and directed three volumes of his own stand-up comedy DVD series. ‘LaMont Ferrell’s Just Jokes Comedy Tour’ features himself, several national known comedians and hilarious skits. The DVD is available online at www.justjokesentertainment.com, Netflix.com and various media outlets around the country.

He is currently a writer for BET’s series ‘Reed Between the Lines‘ and ‘Let’s Stay Together.’ Also, you’ve might have seen him in his recurring role on the hit NBC show, ‘The Office.’

In his interview, LaMont discusses how to train your observational skills, being a “clean” comic, and being an entrepreneur in today’s market.

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.

063 – Bob DeRosa (Killers, White Collar)

Photo Credit: Blake Gardner • We’re debunking more Hollywood myths today! Bob DeRosa, writer of the hit feature ‘Killers‘ and the hit USA show ‘White Collar,’ has lots to say about the things we believe and shouldn’t.

Where Bob DeRosa comes from, nice guys finish first. The Florida-born screenwriter recently finished his first season as a writer on the hit USA show ‘White Collar.’ He previously wrote Lionsgate’s action-comedy ‘Killers,’ starring Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, and co-wrote director Jieho Lee’s crime-drama ‘The Air I Breathe.’

After graduating from the University of Florida, Bob returned home to Orlando and became a leading figure in the city’s thriving theatre and film community. In addition to co-founding the award-winning comedy troupe THEM, Bob spent three years programming for the Florida Film Festival. After relocating to Los Angeles, Bob wrote two evenings of one-act plays and is a regular contributor to the ongoing late-night series ‘Serial Killers’ at Sacred Fools Theater in Hollywood.

When he’s not writing, Bob studies Kenpo karate and spends time with his lady Jen and their three kids, who look suspiciously like cats.

In today’s interview: the myth of breaking in, personal branding, writers room etiquette, and lots more!

Follow Bob on Twitter: @thembob

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.

062 – Kam Miller (Law & Order: SVU, Killer Instinct)

Today is all about mentors, pitching, pilots, and breaking in! In a new topical format, today’s podcast with TV writer-producer Kam Miller is sure to help your career… buckle up!

Kam Miller is a TV writer-producer who has created pilots for FOX, CBS, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Television, and Universal Cable Productions. She wrote for the long-running show “Law & Order: SVU” as well as the short-lived show “Killer Instinct.” Her first feature, “The Iris Effect,” was produced while she was at USC film school. She also wrote and directed “Descendents of Eden, ” a sci-fi short film that premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con Film Festival.

As a grad student, she created the highly successful USC First Pitch, the official pitch festival for the USC School of Cinematic Arts. As an alumnae, she co- created USC First Team, a program that shepherds teams of writers, directors, and producers through development and takes feature projects out to the industry.

Currently, Kam is attached to the TV project “Grave Sight,” which is based on “True Blood” author Charlaine Harris’ Harper Connelly book series. Kam is attached to another pilot with the producers of “Saving Grace” and “The Glades.” She also is finishing her first novel, “Myth of Crime.”

On her blog, “Glass half-full in Hollywood,” Kam shares insights from other film and TV industry professionals about how they keep their glasses half-full in a town that can be draining. You can find it at kammiller.com. Follow Kam on twitter: @kammotion.

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.

061 – David Barlow (King, Nothing Too Good For A Cowboy)

As a production manager, David Barlow got his break into writing by a very unusual method… pitching jokes on set! Since then, he has created two series, including the long running ‘Seeing Things,’ and has over 30 years experience writing in LA, Vancouver, and Toronto.

Mostly recently, David Barlow was a co-executive producer and writer on the Showcase series ‘King.’ Previously, he was a producer-writer on the CBC series ‘The Border‘ – twice nominated for the Best Dramatic Series Gemini. He has co-created two television series – ‘Nothing Good Too for a Cowboy‘ (with Charles Lazer), and ‘Seeing Things‘ (with Louis del Grande). His series credits as a story editor and/or writer include ‘Durham County,’ ‘Blue Murder,’ ‘Cold Squad,’ and ‘North of 60.’

Barlow may be the only producer to receive Gemini nominations for both Best Dramatic Series (‘E.N.G.‘) and Best Sports Program in the same year. The documentary was ‘Chasing the Dream,’ produced with Peter Raymont and William Thomas.

Barlow has received two Gemini Awards for Best Comedy Series (‘Seeing Things’), a Gemini for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series (‘Max Glick‘), the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s Margaret Collier Award for his body of work as a screenwriter, and the WGC’s Writer’s Block Award for service to Canadian screenwriters.

He is also a faculty member of the Advanced Television and Film and Media Arts programs at Sheridan College, Oakville and has conducted professional screenwriting workshops across Canada, in Singapore, and in Dublin.

David has lots of great tips on how to break in… you don’t want to miss this one!

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.

060 – Devon Shepard (MADtv, Weeds)

From Fresh Prince of Bel Air to Weeds, Devon K. Shepard has been a busy TV writer/producer for the last 23 years. He’s full of wisdom on what made that possible!

Devon K. Shepard was born in South Central California. From a very early age, he always had a love of television and film. His parents recognized this love, so on Saturday afternoons, they would drop Devon, his younger brother and older sister at the local movie theater where they would watch movies all day long.

That love of movie translated into a Radio, Television and Film degree from Cal State Northridge. Upon graduation, Devon was hired as a music intern for the television magazine show, “Entertainment Tonight.” His big break, however, came when he met Rob Edwards (The Princess and the Frog) at a barber shop in South Central California. Because he was always cracking jokes on whomever sat in the barber chair, Rob thought that he was funny and asked him to interview for a writer’s trainee job for a show called “Out All Night” starring Patti LaBelle, Vivica A. Fox and Morris Chestnut. Devon was hired for the job and has been working in television ever since.

Devon’s credits include “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” “MADtv,” “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Weeds” and this year’s hot new show, “House Of Lies.” Devon made his directorial and acting debut in a short film, “My Brother’s Keeper”, which he also wrote. Devon is married to Ranada Shepard, a writer in her own right, and they reside in Chatsworth, California, with their three sons.

In his interview, Devon talks about how crucial it is to have a great work ethic, to elevate your craft no matter what stage you’re at, to keep evolving your writing for current issues, and to keep abreast of technological changes like social media and new production techniques. He also talks about researching other cultures to make your characters more believable, and writing material in different genres so you’re not pigeon-holed.

Inspired by Norman Lear and John Hughes, Devon values well crafted & developed characters, and has moved away from comedy to dramatic television.

Follow Devon on Twitter: @DevonShepard

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.