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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

TV Writer Podcast Summer Contest 2011!

2011 Summer Contest

TV WRITER PODCAST SUMMER CONTEST 2011

The contest is now closed… thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to all who won! The full list of winners is at the bottom of this page.

GRAND PRIZES:

Jen Grisanti Pitch Consulting Package (worth $250)
Final Draft Software (worth $249)
Ellen Sandler Career Strategy Consulting Session (worth $100)

WEEKLY & INSTANT PRIZES:

– Pilar Alessandra instructional DVD (worth $30)
– Book “Small Screen, Big Picture” by Chad Gervich (worth $11)
– 3 Script Magazine subscriptions (worth $25 each)
– more could be added!

HOW TO ENTER:

JEN GRISANTI GRAND PRIZE: FIND NEW TV WRITERS FOR TWITTER DATABASE
– Every new submission or correction to TV Writer Twitter Database was a new entry in the draw for the Jen Grisanti grand prize.

– Thanks to several entrants, 163 new writers were added to the TV Writer Twitter Database, bringing the total to a whopping 887!

FINAL DRAFT SOFTWARE GRAND PRIZE: SUBMIT QUESTIONS FOR PODCAST
– The challenge was to check out the schedule of upcoming interviewees on the podcast site, and submit questions for the interviews. Every interviewee question submitted gave an entry in the draw for the Final Draft software grand prize (plus 2 bonus entries if the question was actually read on the podcast).

ELLEN SANDLER GRAND PRIZE: “LIKE” THE FACEBOOK GROUP
– To win the Ellen Sandler grand prize, all you had to do was “Like” the TV Writer Podcast Facebook group — the winner was chosen at random from all the Facebook group members at the end of the contest.

WEEKLY PRIZES:
– Weekly challenges/prizes were announced at TV Writer Chat Sundays (6:30-7:30pm PST). For more details on how to be a part of the chats, go to tvwriterchat.com.

ELIGIBILITY & CONDITIONS:
– You may win more than one prize.
– Anyone is eligible, except for Gray Jones, employees of Script Magazine, and employees of Final Draft.
– Prize winners will be contacted by email. If there is no response by August 31st, a second email will be sent. If there is no response by September 7th, the prize will be defaulted and the person in 2nd position in the draw or challenge will win the prize.

SPECIAL THANKS:
– Special thanks to Jen Grisanti, Ellen Sandler, Pilar Alessandra, Chad Gervich, Final Draft Inc., and Script Magazine for donating prizes.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For more information, email Gray Jones at mail@tvwriterpodcast.com.

==========================================

LIST OF WINNERS:

JEN GRISANTI GRAND PRIZE (FIND NEW TV WRITERS FOR TWITTER DATABASE)
PRIZE AWARDED: Jen Grisanti Pitch Consulting Package (worth $250)
WINNER: Eva Taylor

FINAL DRAFT SOFTWARE GRAND PRIZE (SUBMIT QUESTIONS FOR PODCAST)
PRIZE AWARDED: Final Draft Software (worth $249)
WINNER: Lauren B.

ELLEN SANDLER GRAND PRIZE (“LIKE” THE FACEBOOK GROUP)
PRIZE AWARDED: Ellen Sandler Career Strategy Consulting Session (worth $100)
WINNER: Cortney Matz

TWITTER DATABASE RUNNER-UP (SUBMITTED MOST WRITERS)
PRIZE AWARDED: Pilar Alessandra instructional DVD (worth $30)
WINNER: Sarah Newman

WEEK 1 WEEKLY PRIZE (July 17-23) === CLOSED:
CHALLENGE WAS: What is the total number of free TV scripts, pilots, and TV bibles at the massive Lee Thomson script archive? (Answer: 1637)
PRIZE AWARDED: 1 year Script Magazine subscription, including free access to 7 years of digital back issues!
WINNER: Steph Cheng

WEEK 2 WEEKLY PRIZE (July 24-30): === CLOSED:
CHALLENGE WAS: Find least expensive book on Gray’s Bookshelf at the TV Writer Podcast Amazon Mini-Store (Answer: “The 101 Habits Of Highly Successful Screenwriters” by Karl Iglesias, at $9.38).
PRIZE AWARDED: 1 year Script Magazine subscription, including free access to 7 years of digital back issues!
WINNER: Derek Moreno

WEEK 3 WEEKLY PRIZE (July 31-August 6): === CLOSED:
CHALLENGE WAS: Count the number of resource links on the TV Writer Podcast website sidebar (Answer: 91).
PRIZE AWARDED: 1 year Script Magazine subscription, including free access to 7 years of digital back issues!
WINNER: Michael T. Burgess

WEEK 4 WEEKLY PRIZE (August 7-13): === CLOSED:
CHALLENGE WAS: Contribute new resource links for the TV Writer Podcast website sidebar.
PRIZE AWARDED: Chad Gervich’s excellent book, “Small Screen, Big Picture.”
WINNER: Sarah Newman

WEEK 5 WEEKLY PRIZE (August 14-20): === CLOSED:
CHALLENGE WAS: Go to the new “DSLR” page on the TV Writer Podcast website. On that page, find the answer to this question: which external DSLR website is home to the fabulous DSLR Cinematography Guide?
PRIZE AWARDED: Paperback copy of William Rabkin’s excellent book, “Writing the Pilot” (when it ships).

WINNER: Lauren B.

INSTANT PRIZE 1 (July 19) === CLOSED:
CHALLENGE WAS: First to answer where screenwriter Thomas Lennon is from (Answer: Chicago).
PRIZE AWARDED: Free registration for webinar with Hollywood screenwriters Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, sponsored by Final Draft, Inc.
WINNER: Steph Cheng

INSTANT PRIZE 2 (July 26) === CLOSED:
CHALLENGE WAS: First to answer which has been the most viewed TV Writer Podcast to date (Answer: Jen Grisanti podcast).
PRIZE AWARDED: Paperback copy of William Rabkin’s excellent book, “Writing the Pilot.”
WINNER: Melissa McCready

Audio Device Fried – Donations Needed [UPDATED]






Unfortunately, an expensive audio interface device I use for my podcasting went literally up in smoke last night.  It comes at an awkward time, because I am between day job gigs and cash flow is tight.

My partnership with Script Magazine is a creative partnership, not financial – 90% of the podcast expenses come out of my pocket.

Consider the value you’ve received from these exclusive interviews with working writers. Can you please spare a donation, to help replace the audio device?  

Every little bit helps…  No amount is too small (nor too big).

[UPDATE 3:15pm EST]
I’m absolutely blown away by the responses! The cost of the audio device is now covered, and some extra can go toward replacing a fried laptop I use heavily for podcasting, and also an upcoming yearly server bill. If you haven’t had a chance to donate, these other needs are still pending. That said… countless thanks to all!

Many thanks,
Gray.