032 – Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, Party Down, iZombie)

Do spec pilot scripts sell? What about pilots shot on spec? This week Gray talks to successful author-writer-producer Rob Thomas, creator of Cupid, Veronica Mars, and most recently, Party Down.

Rob Thomas has a fascinating story. He went from basketball and football player to rock band bassist, then graduated from college with a history degree and taught high school… all by his early twenties!

He moved to LA in the early 1990’s to work at Channel One News, an LA-based TV news show aimed at teenagers. He then got a book deal, and published four young adult novels and a collection of short stories.

One of his novels led him to his break in Hollywood, and he got on the staff of Dawson’s Creek in its first season. 14 months after starting Dawson’s Creek, Rob wrote and sold the pilot Cupid, which was picked up! Halfway through its first season he became the showrunner.

Rob shares some great stories about how he came up with the idea for the critically acclaimed Veronica Mars, which he wrote on spec, and also how he not only wrote Party Down on spec, but shot the pilot with his own money at his own house!

Follow Rob on Twitter: @robthomas

Visit Rob’s web site: www.slaverats.com

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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.

031 – Dan Goor (Parks and Recreation, Late Night with Conan O’Brien)

We have another Harvard grad this week… comedy writer Dan Goor, currently supervising producer of the hit sitcom Parks and Recreation.

Though Dan actually studied biochemistry at Harvard, he spent his free time doing improv and theatre. He was accepted to med school, but deferred his admission, as he got an amazing travel grant for a one year trip around the world.

When he returned, his friend Charlie Grandy was applying for writing jobs, and Dan asked is they could apply together. Their application was approved at The Daily Show, and the rest was history!

After writing for several years on The Daily Show, Dan & Charlie decided to break up their writing partnership, and Dan went on to write for Last Call with Carson Daily, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, the Office, and now Parks and Recreation.

In this long interview, Dan goes into great detail about the process of writing Parks and Recreation, with very helpful tidbits from behind the scenes, including how to build a story, how to get the most out of the various departments, and the role of improv in the performances. He also gives very practical advice on writing your own pilots and spec scripts. You don’t want to miss this one!

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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.

030 – Ari Posner (Reba, Popular, Call Me Fitz)

Writer-producer Ari Posner delivered a humorous valedictorian speech to his Harvard class in 1986, and has been making us laugh ever since!

After graduating from Harvard, Ari worked as a reporter for numerous publications such as the Miami Herald, The Boston Phoenix, and The New Republic. However, he found himself continually drawn toward writing comedy.

Awarded a full scholarship to study at USC, Ari moved to L.A., and soon after graduating was on his first sitcom staff, Fox’s Partners. Since then he has worked on numerous multi-camera sitcoms, hour long dramas, and single camera comedies, including such titles as Popular, Reba, Mental, and Call Me Fitz, which was recently nominated for 16 Gemini Awards.

He has also written and developed many pilots, for such companies as Sony Pictures Television, Happy Madison Productions, Gary Sanchez Productions, CBS, and Disney Channel.

In this interview, Ari takes us on an entertaining look at his journey through the industry, and gives incredibly helpful tips on writing pilots and other original material, and how to use that material to break in.

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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.

029 – Sheldon Bull (author, “Elephant Bucks”)

Writer-producer-author Sheldon Bull was challenged by friend and co-writer Blake Snyder to write a “Save the Cat” for sitcom writing. Thus was born “Elephant Bucks: An Inside Guide to Writing for TV Sitcoms.”

Sheldon Bull has earned Elephant Bucks as a highly successful TV writer and producer for thirty years.

He has held positions from Story Editor to Executive Producer on eleven different prime time network situation comedies, working with and writing for stars like Bill Cosby, Alan Alda, Danny DeVito, Bob Newhart, Henry Winkler, Craig T. Nelson, Loni Anderson, Betty White, and Melissa Joan Hart.

Sheldon has produced a string of hit series including Newhart, A Different World, Coach, and Sabrina – The Teenage Witch.

He lives in the Los Angeles area… You can visit his website at www.sheldonbull.com.

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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.

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 most 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! 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.

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! 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.