040 – Phil Klemmer (Veronica Mars, Chuck)

Today brings not just one but two interviews with Phil Klemmer, a writer on all five seasons of ‘Chuck,’ and all four seasons of ‘Veronica Mars.’ We also launch the new “Video Tips” segment of the podcast, and welcome a number of new sponsors.

After graduating with a classics major at Stanford, Phil Klemmer moved to L.A., and become a reader for Propaganda films. There, he worked with such names as Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze, though his first break would come through Rob Thomas, who he had met through Rob’s “crazy Hallowe’en parties.”

Based on a ‘Six Feet Under‘ spec script that Phil wrote in two weeks, Rob hired him to write on Veronica Mars, a job that would last 4 seasons.

After Veronica Mars, Phil got a job on NBC’s Chuck, a show that has always been on the bubble for renewal. After the third season, renewal news came late, and most of the Chuck writers, including Phil, took jobs on other shows.

Phil describes what it was like to work on NBC’s ‘Undercovers,’ a show that he says was doomed even before it aired, and then how he fortuitously returned to Chuck mid-season, immediately after Undercovers was cancelled.

Then he takes us to the present, sharing how the cast and crew are gelling like never before, but are already nostalgic about the end, as Chuck wraps up production for good on December 7th.

In the Video Tips section, Gray talks about how easy it is to add custom color looks to your showcase film or webisodes using Red Giant Software’s Magic Bullet Suite.

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.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
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.

039 – Eric Kaldor (Kojak, Rockford Files)

He was born on the first day of the Great Depression, did competitive ski racing in Europe, and went to spy school to became a special agent. But a passion for writing led Eric Kaldor to Hollywood, and he has many stories to tell about his journey!

After spending some time as a sports producer, Eric Kaldor landed his first TV writing gig. He then went on to write for some of the most well known hits of the 1970’s: ‘Emergency,’ ‘Kojak,’ ‘The Rockford Files,’ and ‘The Incredible Hulk.’

You’ll love hearing about how TV writing worked in the 1970’s, and how much it differs from the group writing of today. Also, Eric is full of amusing anecdotes about his path to and through Hollywood.

After 1980, Eric left TV writing to raise his family and build a successful family business with his wife. He started acting, and has had parts in many recent films and TV shows, including ‘Hollywoodland,’ ‘ER,’ and ‘House.’

Eric never stopped writing… he is currently working on a novel, and publishing it a chapter at a time on his website at erickaldor.com.

Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricKaldor

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.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
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.

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

Comedy writer Kristin Newman spent almost 10 years writing on very well known comedies, including having 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 70’s Show.’

She ended up stuck in the 70’s (in a good way!) for the next 7 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 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! 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.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
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.

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 ten 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 on Twitter: @Yost

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.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
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.

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 on Twitter: @DiasDave

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.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
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.

035 – Mike Alber (Death Valley, Ultradome)

Ever heard of someone who didn’t live in L.A. or New York landing a staff TV writing gig? How about sight unseen, hired from a phone interview? Meet Mike Alber, who sold many pitches to a major network, wrote on a web series, and even landed a staff writing gig while not even living in the same state!

Mike & writing partner Gabe Snyder met in high school, and clicked right away. Despite going to different colleges in different cities, they wrote together constantly. Mike was on track to be a doctor, but after starting med school he realized that writing was his passion, so he switched his masters studies to creative writing.

Gabe moved to L.A. in 2006, but Mike continued his studies in Ohio. They placed in several screenplay competitions, but it was through an honorable mention at a trackingb.com contest that they got their first option. They were on the map! One relationship led to another, and soon they sold several pitches to Spike TV, worked on the web series “Ultradome,” signed for management and representation, and were taking meetings all over town.

Mike tells the amazing story of how his newborn daughter kept him away from L.A., yet he was able to land his first TV staff gig, on MTV’s “Death Valley,” with a phone call from the hospital waiting room! Mike finally did move to L.A. this year, and does advise that everyone else should move to L.A. first — his luck is not easy to repeat!

Mike and Gabe are idea machines, and Mike has great advice on how you can be one too!

Follow Mike on Twitter: @malber

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.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
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.

034 – Sheri Elwood (Call Me Fitz, Defying Gravity)

Within 7 years of graduating from film school, Sheri Elwood had not only created her own successful TV series, but had written and directed a feature film starring Kirsten Dunst and Lynn Redgrave. Fast forward to the present: her current series, Call Me Fitz, which was inspired by her own family, has just won 7 Gemini Awards.

After graduating from Ryerson University’s Film Program in Toronto, Sheri Elwood was awarded the National Apprenticeship Award from the Academy of Canadian Film and Television. This launched her to many seasons of comedy writing for networks such as Disney, Fox, The Family Channel and YTV. By 1999, she had created her own series for tweens, “I Was a Sixth Grade Alien,” which went two full seasons.

In the off season, Sheri wrote and directed a Gemini nominated short film, “Eb and Flo,” and her first feature film, the romantic teen drama, “Deeply,” starring Lynn Redgrave, Kirsten Dunst and Brent Carver. Deeply premiered to a 4-star review at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was also nominated for four Genie Awards.

Elwood teamed with Lionsgate TV to create the comedy series “Beta Males” for the CW Network, and also wrote for the 1-hr ABC/CTV drama “Defying Gravity” for Fox Television Studios with creator James Parriott (Grey’s Anatomy).

Fulfilling a dream to capture the spirit of her loving and unique family on TV, Elwood created the edgy cable series “Call Me Fitz,” starring Jason Priestly, for TMN/Movie Central. They have just begun shooting season 3, with Elwood writing, directing and showrunning. You can catch Call Me Fitz on HBO Canada, or in the US on Netflix or DirecTV.

Elwood has just signed a blind development deal with Jerry Bruckheimer Television.

Sheri splits her time between Los Angeles and Nova Scotia where she and her family spend time at their century old schoolhouse and love to ring the bell.

Follow Sheri on Twitter: @elwoodink

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.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
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.

033 – Koo (The West Side, NoFilmSchool.com)

Want to shoot a showcase film? Web series? Crowd fund a project? This week Gray talks to Koo — a Webby Award winner, DIY filmmaker, and the creator of NoFilmSchool.com and its excellent free “DSLR Cinematography Guide.”

Koo co-wrote, directed, shot, and edited the “urban western” web series The West Side, which won the Webby Award for Best Drama Series. Filmmaker Magazine heralded the series as “ingenious low-budget independent filmmaking that just happens to be viewable only on the Web,” and named him one of their 25 New Faces of Film.

Koo has shot for Focus Features, The Workbook Project, and Ralph Lauren; he has written for Filmmaker Magazine and Weblogs, Inc.; and he has served as Senior Designer for Rhapsody and MTV. His films have been official selections at several film festivals nationwide, and he was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

His website NoFilmSchool.com focuses on DIY filmmaking and independent creativity, and won Total Film’s Best Creative Blog award. He is in pre-pre-production on his first feature film, “Man-Child,” which is being funded through a crowd funding Kickstarter campaign.

Follow Koo on Twitter: @ryanbkoo

Visit Koo’s web site: NoFilmSchool.com

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.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
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.

Koo PR photo by Mario Torres.

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

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.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
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!

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.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
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.