115 – Ali Laventhol (Ginny & Georgia, A Million Little Things)

This week, host Gray Jones interviews Ali Laventhol, most recently co-executive producer on ‘Ginny & Georgia‘ with her writing partner Tawnya Bhattacharya of Script Anatomy.

Ali Laventhol Biography

Ali Laventhol got her start in show business working on movies like ‘National Treasure: Book of Secrets,’ ‘Terminator: Salvation‘ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.’ Only not as a writer. She was a visual effects compositor for features, commercials and music videos before making the leap to her original love: writing.

Teaming up with Tawnya Bhattacharya and together attending the NBC Writers on the Verge writing fellowship led to staff gigs on shows like ‘A Million Little Things,’ ‘Famous In Love,’ ‘Perception,’ and ‘The Client List.’ Most recently the duo have been Co-Executive Producers for ‘Ginny & Georgia‘ at Netflix and ‘Salsa’ at Apple.

A former competitive equestrian and certified massage therapist, Ali currently teaches TV writing at Script Anatomy. Her free time is generally spent playing in local tennis leagues or with her rescue mutt, Mavis, who has her extremely well trained.

INDEX TO THE EPISODE:

0:04 – Intro, special discounts for podcast listeners – 15% off photo & video scanning/importing at avgearguy.com, and 20% off 9-angle driving plates at drivingfootage.com.
3:41 – Interview start, Ali’s background in visual effects.
10:22 – How she made the career transition into writing.
11:50 – Building a writing partnership with Tawnya Bhattacharya, after meeting her at Writers Boot Camp in 2005.
13:57 – How they got into NBC’s Writers on the Verge, and their experience in the writing fellowship, including getting representation and their first job. Discussion about being in a writing partnership.
19:30 – Her experience on their first staff job, ‘Fairly Legal.’
22:08 – Signposts of their subsequent 8 year successful run, going from one show to another.
25:07 – Discussing producer responsibilities, like visiting set, casting, etc.
27:35 – Their more recent projects, discussing different showrunning styles.
30:40 – Co-executive producing on ‘Ginny & Georgia’ and their most recent project for AppleTV, which was primarily developed over Zoom in a mini-room format.
33:43 – Script tips based on her wealth of experience reading scripts, and coaching and teaching through Script Anatomy.
36:51 – What Script Anatomy offers writers.
39:55 – The most common advice she gives newer writers.
46:37 – Do you really need to go to film school?
48:09 – What does she wish she had known at the start of her career, that she knows now: how different each showrunner is.
49:52 – What helps to get through the harder times?
51:13 – End of interview, how to connect with her.

Follow Ali on Twitter: @AliLaventhol.

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.

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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.

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102 – Spiro Skentzos (Arrow, Grimm, Chadam)

This week, host Gray Jones interviews writer Spiro Skentzos, who has written for “Arrow,” “Grimm,” and TV pilots, as well as “Chadam,” an animated web series he co-created.

This episode is sponsored by Pilar Alessandra of onthepage.tv. Pilar is offering a 10% discount on her online “Writing TV” class, which runs Saturdays from July 11 – August 1. To get your 10% off, use the coupon code onthepage10 at checkout.

Spiro Skentzos grew up in a multi-ethnic family speaking Spanish, Greek, and English – and the inevitable mash-up of Magical Realism and ancient mythology primed him as a child to fall hard for genre stories, the world-building fantasy of comic books, and Star Wars.

His first foray into screenwriting was as a young boy, when he wrote a script for his Star Wars figures where they battled his sister’s giant, menacing Barbie dolls—and he’s been writing ever since.

His professional career began in comedy on “George Lopez.” Then Spiro co-created and co-wrote the animated sci-fi/zombie web series “Chadam.” He’s written on two seasons on “Grimm,” a season on “Arrow,” and has sold 3 pilots.

To inspire the next generation of writers, Spiro created the “Intro to TV Writing” panel at Comic-Con, currently in its eleventh year. He’s a graduate of NBC’s Writers on the Verge Program, and co-chairs the WGA’s LGBTQ+ Committee. When not writing, he paints (on canvas, not houses), is learning French, and still enjoys reading comics. Follow Spiro on twitter @spirographo & IG @spirovisionproductions.

INDEX TO THE EPISODE:

01:29 – Interview start.
02:18 – How is the virus affecting you?
04:41 – His background, art history major at U of Michigan.
05:31 – Started as an assistant on the George Lopez Show.
05:44 – How he “almost” got representation air that time.
07:34 – How he made the shift to genre writing, and where his love of mythology and comic books came from.
08:44 – Co-creating, co-writing animated web series Chadam, trying to break into one hour drama. Agent horror story, and the spec that got him into NBC Writers on the Verge.
10:19 – 2008 writers strike was a setback, but NBC really pushed to get him onto a show, and he finally got on staff on Grimm.
13:02 – On developing and selling pilots and a feature, and then staffing on Arrow.
15:19 – Sponsors.
16:17 – All about Arrow.
18:01 – What he’s been working on since Arrow.
18:57 – Who his mentors have been – Erika Kennair, Karen Horn, others, and the importance of fostering friendships. Also how he mentors others.
22:18 – How and why he got started moderating panels.
25:49 – how he learned and hones his craft.
27:21 – toughest part and best part about being a TV writer. Turning bad experiences into a story.
31:08 – How Peak TV is changing TV writing… smaller staffs, shorter runs.
34:14 – His future plans.
37:45 – Tips for greener writers, general writing & career tips.

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.

PLEASE NOTE: we are now doing Tuesday releases, to line up with Script Magazine’s release dates.

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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.