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.

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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.

058 – Janine Sherman Barrois (Criminal Minds, ER, Third Watch)

“The best writers in town have everything in their arsenal.” Janine Sherman Barrois is our guest this week, and she knows what she’s talking about!

After growing up in Massachusetts, Janine Sherman Barrois moved to Virginia in high school, and began writing for the school paper. She quickly learned that her love was not of reporting facts, but of telling stories. She attended Howard University, where on the advice of her roommate’s dad, director Gilbert Moses, she did a major in English, and a minor in film, so she could read more books.

She moved to Los Angeles… Janine is quick to remind the viewer that it took a few years of odd jobs before she was able to land her first staff gig. An important step along the way was the Warner Bros. Writers Workshop… she had previously been denied, but succeeded in landing a place in the workshop when she paired up with a writing partner.

She and her writing partner got several TV comedy staff gigs, including Lush Life, Eddie Murphy’s The PJ’s, and The Jamie Foxx Show. Then, after getting some attention from a feature script they wrote, they got a job on Third Watch. After the first season, Janine stayed in drama, while her partner went back to comedy.

After several seasons of Third Watch, Janine worked for several seasons on ER, ending up at the EP level. Then she auditioned for Criminal Minds — and is careful to point out that they actually read her writing samples, though she was an EP already — and joined the staff as EP at the beginning of season 6.

Janine was nominated for five NAACP Image Awards and a Humanitas Award for her writing. She also serves on the board of the William H. Johnson Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to giving scholarships to African-American Contemporary artists.

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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.

055 – Jana Sinyor (Dark Oracle, Being Erica)

She won an International Emmy Award for her series Dark Oracle, and received 16 Gemini Awards for her series Being Erica. This week, we meet Canadian series creator and showrunner Jana Sinyor!


After attending McGill for religious studies, it was an epiphany after a tough shift at a call center that led Jana Sinyor to pursue writing for the screen.

In her interview, Jana shares how her time at the Canadian Film Centre and attending screenwriting functions and parties led to her first freelance script for ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation,’ to writing for a children’s series, and then to create her own original series, ‘Dark Oracle,’ which won an International Emmy Award for Best Youth Drama.

Next Jana created the CBC critically-acclaimed one hour drama ‘Being Erica,’ on which she served as Executive Producer and Showrunner. Temple Street Productions produced the series, which subsequently sold to ABC Soapnet and many territories around the world. Being Erica has been nominated for 16 Gemini Awards – winning three. Jana is in active development on a new one hour series for ABC, as well as a new show for CBC with collaborator Aaron Martin.

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.

045 – Sarah McLaughlin (Drop Dead Diva, That 70’s Show)

The doctor is in! This week features none other than the TV Script Doctor herself, Sarah McLaughlin, who also happens to be a successful comedy writer on shows such as That 70’s Show and Drop Dead Diva.

Growing up in New York, Sarah McLaughlin wasn’t allowed to watch television… fascinated by the forbidden fruit, she pursued journalism at the University of Colorado, and before long she was in Los Angeles working as a production assistant on the final season of Home Improvement.

On Home Improvement, she fell in love with scripted television, but didn’t know anything about the industry. She used her time there wisely, talking to as many people in different TV jobs as she could, and reading as many scripts as she could get her hands on.

After taking a course at UCLA and writing some spec scripts, she landed a spot in the Warner Brothers Writers Workshop. Though tremendously helpful, it didn’t directly land her a writing gig. However, she was able to use her position as a writer’s assistant on That 70’s Show to pitch and write her own episode, and her writing career took off!

After a few short stints on other shows, she ended back on That 70’s Show, where she worked her way up for several seasons. She went on to work on South Park, and sell pilots to MTV and Sony Television, before landing work on her current show, Drop Dead Diva.

Between her staff experience, and her work as a script evaluator and creative consultant for the Warner Bros. Writers Workshop and The Disney/ABC writers fellowship, Sarah understands what it takes to have your script go from the “reject” pile to the “yes” pile. In this podcast, she shares many great tips on how to improve your spec or pilot script, as well as sharing how a TV episode goes from idea to finished product.

Sarah works as a consultant to both new and working writers through her website: http://tvscriptdoctor.com

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @tvscriptdoctor

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.

043 – Pamela Douglas (Writing the TV Drama Series, USC)

She wrote the book on TV writing … literally! And she also started what has become the most esteemed graduate school for television writing. This week Gray has a wonderful chat with author, writer, and professor Pamela Douglas.

Born and raised in New York, Pamela Douglas wrote poetry, stories and plays, and was involved in journalism. Her work was published in small magazines, and won her some prizes. This led to a job offer across the country, as program director for experimental public TV station in Los Angeles.

When the station went broke, a bold interview led to her being hired as an executive in feature film development at MCA-Universal. She honed her craft there, writing several unproduced features, but grew to realize that television was where she wanted to be.

The first TV episode she ever wrote, for Trapper John M.D., won an Emmy® for actress Madge Sinclair, and Pamela was off to the races! She worked on many well-known shows, and was honored with many awards, such as a Humanitas Award for Between Mother and Daughter, an original drama which also won a nomination for a Writers Guild Award. Multiple Emmy nominations and awards from American Women in Radio and Television went to other dramas she has written.

Seeing a need in the industry, Pamela started the TV writing program at the School of Cinematic Arts of the University of Southern California, and is now a tenured professor there. Her book, Writing the TV Drama Series: How to Succeed as a Professional Writer in TV is considered one of the premier books on the subject, and has just been updated with a third edition.

You can find out more about her non-screenwriting works on her websites: http://pamdouglasbooks.com and http://pamdouglasart.com.

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.

038 – Kristin Newman (Chuck, That 70’s Show)

Comedy writer Kristin Newman spent almost 10 years writing on very well-known comedies, and had her own pilot shot and picked up to series (though not aired). She now brings her talents to a one-hour drama, on NBC’s Chuck.

Kristin Newman got an early break, with a production staff job on Everybody Loves Raymond. She graduated to writer’s assistant on Nikita, Mad About You, and That 70s Show.

She ended up stuck in the 70s (in a good way!) for the next seven years, rising up from staff writer to supervising producer. Moving on to How I Met Your Mother as co-executive producer, she also landed an overall deal at Fox … which was unfortunately cut short when the 2007 writers strike happened.

Because of an injury, Kristin was not able to walk the picket lines. What could she do? She wrote the pilot Single With Parents, which was shot with Alyssa Milano and Beau Bridges, and picked up to series … though it unfortunately never aired.

Then came NBC’s Chuck. She entered the staff as co-executive producer in its fourth season, and is currently breaking the series finale. Make sure to watch the final season, when Chuck returns on Friday, October 28th!

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.