095 – Michael Narducci (Showrunner of The Originals)

This week, host Gray Jones interviews Michael Narducci, showrunner and EP for The Originals, co-EP for The Crossing, and writer and producer for The Vampire Diaries.

Episode 095 is sponsored by Pilar Alessandra of onthepage.tv. Pilar is offering a 10% discount on any of her services: to get your 10% off, reach out to Pilar directly and mention the TV Writer Podcast.

Michael Narducci biography:

Currently working on an as yet unannounced Netflix series, Michael recently developed Warriors through ABC Studios. Prior to that, he was the showrunner of The Originals for Warner Brothers TV, and also served as a writer on The Vampire Diaries, Medium, The 4400, and The Crossing.  
 
Michael was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. He attended Harvard University where he lettered in football and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in psychology. He went on to receive his MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Virginia. His short stories have appeared in The Texas Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Pembroke and Gadfly magazine. He taught creative writing at The Idyllwild Arts Academy for seven years and has also taught writing in Boston, Charlottesville, South Central Los Angeles, and South Korea. 

INDEX TO THE EPISODE:

2:01 – Interview start
2:38 – how COVID-19 is affecting him and his work
6:16 – how he went to Harvard and lettered in football but ended up doing an MFA in creative writing
8:38 – how he published short stories, taught in school for several years, and started writing specs
11:50 – how the Warner Brothers writing fellowship helped him get his first staff gig and an agent
14:43 – on landing the staff gig without going the traditional route of being an assistant
18:15 – on having a manager since before the WB program, and what he feels managers offer
20:18 – in between series, what happens? Details about show runner meetings and pitching.
22:57 – landing the gig on Medium after a lot of unsuccessful interviews
24:49 – landing the gig on Vampire Diaries, and what made that show different
27:51 – traveling to New Orleans to research the Originals spinoff, moving up to EP
28:53 – getting an overall deal, and consulting on The Crossing
30:54 – on development
31:09 – what showrunners are looking for in interviews
32:42 – Michael shares about many mentors who have helped him along the way
36:04 – on being a learner, and a team player – references the book Difficult Men, and the masculine vs feminine style of showrunning
39:28 – his showrunning on The Originals, mentoring others
41:30 – on having an overriding principal idea for each season, with examples from each season of The Originals
45:08 – why mentoring and giving back is important to him, and the value of story
50:00 – on development, and some of the projects he has developed
56:17 – what he is most passionate about – common cause, ensemble shows where people begin as adversaries but grow together, and making people care about characters and story.
1:00:22 – hardest thing about being a TV writer
1:04:10 – best part about being a TV writer – the “what if” brainstorming sessions, and collaboration with other writers to develop story, working with incredible actors and seeing it come to life on scene .
1:06:26 – what is positive in the industry and what needs to change?
1:07:42 – how much more diversity there is in writers rooms now, and how it is a great time to break in
1:09:35 – advice to greener writers – what he looks for when interviewing and reading scripts, and mistakes he sees people making, including on social media.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelNarducci

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.

Upcoming weekly interviews will include Keto Shimizu (EP, Legends of Tomorrow), Dan O’Shannon (EP of Cheers, Frasier, and Modern Family), Shawn Ryan (creator of Timeless and The Shield) and lots more!

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028 – Tamiko Brooks (8 Simple Rules, Half & Half)

Writer Tamiko Brooks grew up in Detroit, but knew from an early age she wanted to work in the entertainment industry. She was not only the first Nickelodeon live action fellow, but was also accepted to the Disney/ABC writing fellowship.


Tamiko Brooks earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. After graduation, she headed west to L.A., and got a job as an assistant on the TV sitcom, Moesha. Under the mentorship of some of the writers, Tamiko began writing spec sitcoms and ultimately received her first writing credit in 1999 with an episode of Moesha.

Soon after, Tamiko was accepted to the first year of the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship, along with former podcast interviewee Courtney Lilly. She was relocated to Orlando, FL to work on the Nick sitcom, Taina.

After that, she became an ABC/Disney writing fellow. As a result, she was placed on the sitcom, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. The head writer was so impressed with her that he hired her on staff, and she was with the show for two seasons until its cancellation.

Tamiko was then hired as a writer on Half & Half. Additionally, Tamiko has written freelance assignments for The Proud Family and the daytime drama One Life to Live.

You’ll learn a lot from Tamiko about navigating the industry, and dealing with the ups and downs and cyclical nature of TV schedules.

Make sure you take part in the TV Writer Chat this Sunday night, as it will feature the launch of the first TV Writer Podcast contest, with some amazing prizes! Get the details about the chat at tvwriterchat.com.

Follow Tamiko on Twitter: @TamikoBrooks

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.

010 – Keto Shimizu (The Cape)

Next up in our Women TV Writers series, we meet Keto Shimizu, an alumnus of the NBC Writers on the Verge program, who landed a staff writing gig on NBC’s The Cape in her mid-twenties, just three years after arriving in L.A. Want to find out how?


Though young, Keto has a lot of very practical advice for getting started in the business. Find out how she used her connections from Boston’s Emerson College to land several jobs in L.A., including post-production assistant on the recent TRON: Legacy.

Then, learn all about the NBC Writers on the Verge program, and how continuing to network with its participants helped her to draft a new TV pilot that was instrumental in her securing representation.

Finally, find out about The Cape — how advice to “geek out” paid off in landing the gig as a full staff writer, and also a great behind the scenes look at the writers room and how the first season has gone from script to screen!

Make sure you watch The Cape on NBC, Mondays at 9/8c, just after Chuck!

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.

About the Podcast and the Partnership

TV Writer Podcast

Why start the TV Writer Podcast?

It’s really the same reason I created a podcast for Chuck. I looked around, and couldn’t find one.

There are oodles of podcasts about writing feature film scripts and novels. A few offer a smorgasbord, which happens to include TV writers. However, to my knowledge there is no podcast devoted exclusively to the creators of the small screen, despite the fact that there may be as many as ten times the number of writers working in television as those who write for features. Also, it helps that in my Chuck podcast, I found I especially enjoyed speaking to the writers.

My primary goal is to offer great podcast interviews with working writers in various genres and parts of the television industry. One week may feature a showrunner for a Hollywood scripted drama, and the next may feature a writer for a Canadian kids animation show.

Another very important goal is to make these “unsung heroes” into “sung heroes,” so to speak. At times it baffles me why so much media and attention is given to the cast, and yet so little attention is given to those who create the stories we love… not just showrunners and executive producers, but writers at all levels.

What does “partner of Script Magazine” mean?

I’m very proud that Script Magazine, a Final Draft, Inc. publication, has chosen to partner with me on the TV Writer Podcast. They will promote the podcast on their newly revamped website, and also assist me in contacting writers for interviews. When they feature TV writers in the print magazine, these writers will be approached for possible podcast interviews to tie in with the print articles.

What are my goals for the website?

It’s not that there aren’t great resources for existing and aspiring TV writers; it’s just that most are devoted to a particular writer, book, organization, or service. As such, they either have a specific slant, or are limited in some way.

Of course, the website will support the podcast, with enhancements related to the episodes (like bio information for the interviewees and links to their suggested resources, favorite books, etc.). However, my goal is that the site will be a hub where you can find organized links to many different resources for TV writing, as well as be a place to gather for helpful discussion.

I need you!

To accomplish these goals, I need you! I need your ideas and feedback on the site. I need suggestions for blogs, sites, books, DVDs, podcasts, and seminars you’ve found helpful. I need guest article writers and book reviewers. No suggestion is too small! Please send me an email if you have anything to say.

I also especially need writers to interview. If you are a working writer yourself, or if you know any writers who are open to being interviewed, please contact me.

TVWP and other notes

You may notice when you try to abbreviate the podcast name it is the same acronym as “Television Without Pity,” a wonderful TV-related website. My bad. I had registered the name long before this occurred to me. So… please try to abbreviate this podcast as TVW_P, and on Twitter use the hash tag #TVW_P.

Also, you’ll notice many resources on the site related to feature film writing. While the podcast will be focused on TV writers, I would be remiss if I were to leave out the wonderful wealth of information provided by authors of feature writing and general writing books, blogs, and sites.

Thanks,
Gray.