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

Within seven 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 seven 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 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 four-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 three, with Elwood writing, directing, and showrunning. You can catch Call Me Fitz on HBO Canada, or in the U.S. 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

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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.

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” webseries 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

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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.

032 – Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, Party Down)

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 L.A. in the early 1990s to work at Channel One News, an L.A.-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. Fourteen 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: @slaverat1

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.

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 if 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.

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.

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 30 years.

He has held positions from story editor to executive producer on 11 different primetime 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.

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.