April 11 2012

TV Writer Podcast 047 Ross Brown (The Cosby Show, Bite-Sized Television)

From family TV to teaching web series writing… Ross Brown wrote for some of the biggest family sitcoms of the eighties and nineties, including creating a show that would be the launching pad for Halle Berry's career.

Few of us have more humble beginnings… Ross Brown literally started out on his hands and knees, as a stand-in for a dog in a dog commercial. Clearly there was nowhere to go but up! And up he went, as a 2nd assistant director and then 1st assistant director on such hits as films Private Benjamin and National Lampoon's Vacation, as well as TV series Knots Landing.

But Ross wanted to write… and write he did. A spec Webster episode led a staff gig on The Cosby Show, followed by The Facts of LifeWho's The BossStep by Step, and many other popular sitcoms. He also created prime time series for ABC, CBS and the WB, such as Living Dolls, in which he helped cast young model Halle Berry in her first acting role.

Ross then began teaching and expanding his writing horizons. His play Hindsight received two staged readings at the Pasadena Playhouse (Pasadena, California) in July of 2007. His short play Field of Vision was performed in Chicago at the Appetite Theater’s Bruschetta 2008 festival.

Currently Ross is an Assistant Professor of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University in Orange, CA, where he developed a series of cutting-edge courses on creating TV series for the Internet. This series led to his popular book, Byte-Sized Television: Create Your Own TV Series for the Internet.

Discover more about Ross at his website: http://bytesized.tv

CONTEST: buy Troy Devolld's book, Reality TV: An Insider's Guide to TV's Hottest Market, read it, and submit questions to mail@tvwriterpodcast.com by February 1st. If you win the random draw, you'll receive a copy of the new 3rd edition of Pamela Douglas's book, Writing the TV Drama Series.

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.

April 5 2012

TV Writer Podcast 046 - John Vorhaus (Comic Toolbox, Married… with Children)

John Vorhaus is best known as the author of The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You’re Not. This seminal book on writing comedy for television and film is now available in four languages, and continues to be a definitive source of information and inspiration for writers from Santa Monica to Scandinavia.

An international consultant in television and film script development, Vorhaus has worked for television networks, film schools, and production companies in 30 countries on four continents.

Vorhaus’ own screenwriting credits include Married… with ChildrenHead of the ClassThe Sentinel,The Flash and many overseas television shows and films, including the sitcoms House Arrest and Pretty, Sick and Twisted, and the movie Save Angel Hope.

John is also the author of the six-volume Killer Poker series, plus miscellaneous other books on the subject, including the novel Under the Gun, a “how-to whodunit” set in the world of high stakes tournament poker. His other novels include The California Roll and its upcoming sequel, The Albuquerque Turkey.

Vorhaus is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University and a member of the Writers Guild of America. He has taught writing at Northwestern University and the American Film Institute, and lectured for such disparate groups as Mensa and the New Jersey Romance Writers Association.

Discover more about John at his website: http://johnvorhaus.com

Follow John on Twitter: @TrueFactBarFact

CONTEST: buy Ross Brown's book, Byte-Sized Television: Create Your Own TV Series for the Internet, read it, and submit questions to mail@tvwriterpodcast.com by January 1st. If you win the random draw, you'll receive a copy of Troy Devolld's book, Reality TV: An Insider's Guide to TV's Hottest Market.

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; and by Final Draft scriptwriting software, the entertainment industry standard for scriptwriting worldwide.

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April 2 2012

TV Writer Podcast 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

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December 16 2011

Podcast: Richard Curtis on Steven Spielberg’s War Horse

Screenwriter Richard Curtis is a legend in romantic comedy writing -- Bridget Jones's Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually to name a few. So, how did one amazing rom-com writer get to adapt a period drama about a boy separated from his horse during World War I? He got a call from Steven Spielberg, that's how.
"I wanted to see if I could do it before I agreed to it," Curtis says of being asked to co-write War Horse, Spielberg's Christmas-opener, starring Jeremy Irvine and Emily Watson. The script is co-written by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot and Gabriel & Me), and adapted from the children's novel, of the same name, by Michael Morpurgo.
The War Horse experience is one Curtis will always remember. Script sat down with the famed screenwriter to get some insight into his process.
Podcast highlights:
  • How to overcome writer's block ...
  • "At every point, we try to work out what's the richest thing you can do ..."
  • "I'll do a day on plot, a day on scenes, a day on character, do the different bits separately ..."
  • "Lil' piece of advice: Call your girl characters by girl names and your boy characters by boy names ..."

Click below to listen:

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December 13 2011

Podcast: The Husband and Wife Team Behind Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Screenwriter Kieran Mulroney knows the best way to  handle a fight with his writing partner Michele Mulroney (who is also his wife): Michele wins. All kidding aside, when your wife’s your writing partner, how do you deal with a tie break? Michele gives the answer: "We always say the person with the most conviction wins."

"That's Michele," says Kieran. They laugh and comment on the immensely fun, but extremely emotional, experience of being a husband and wife writing team assigned to the new action comedy Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (the sequel to the successful 2009 Sherlock Holmes, starring Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.).  The film releases December 16.

Script sat down with this witty husband and wife writing team to get some clues on how they wrote one of the most anticipated sequels of the year.

Podcast highlights:

  • "There's a burden of expectations ..."
  • "It was a really honest group of filmmakers ..." (Robert Downey Jr., Guy Ritchie)
  • "They gave us full permission to say, 'No,' if we didn't see a way to make their notes work ..."
  • "Your first draft, no matter how long you spend on it, is never as good as you think it is ..."
  • "In a classic Sherlock Holmes story, you have to start at the end and work to the beginning ..."

Click below to listen:

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November 23 2011

Podcast: Manager Michael Kuciak Signs Big Break™ Standouts

Final Draft, Inc.'s Big Break™ judge Michael Kuciak is a literary manager with his own firm, Samurai MK. When he read scripts in 2011 for the prestigious contest, known for hooking writers up with industry folks, he found two screenplays that he just couldn't put down. Cut to: Kuciak with two new clients.

Script sat with Kuciak to hear about how he discovered Paul Gavin and Matthew Gayne, what drew him to their scripts, and what he's going to do next for their careers.

Podcast highlights:

  • "[Both writers] created their own luck by being extremely hard working and having talent."
  • "[Both writers] have very sharp and distinct voices."
  • When looking for clients, Kuciak wants talent, commerciality and hunger.

Click below to listen:

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November 3 2011

TV Writer Podcast 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 1970s: Emergency, Kojak, The Rockford Files, and The Incredible Hulk.

You'll love hearing about how TV writing worked in the 1970s, 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 films, like 2006's Hollywoodland, and many recent shows, including 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

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; and by Final Draft scriptwriting software, the entertainment industry standard for scriptwriting worldwide.

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

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November 2 2011

Podcast: Tower Heist Screenwriters Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson

How do you balance comedy and plot? Several comedic voices and big action sequences? Veteran screenwriters Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Terminal, Rush Hour 2) and Ted Griffin (Ocean's Eleven, Matchstick Men, Killers, Rumor Has It) sat down with Script to talk about their new action comedy, Tower Heist, releasing November 4.

The film is about an uptight building manager and his team of misfit friends who decide to rob a millionaire in order to win back their stolen pension money. Tower Heist stars Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni, and Gabourey Sidibe.

Podcast highlights include:

  • "The key to writing is rewriting and revisions ..."
  • "That first draft is most likely five to six drafts away from being that final draft ..."
  • How to avoid writing to the joke.
  • How to track multiple characters in plot and comedy.

Click below to listen:

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October 26 2011

TV Writer Podcast 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!

Didn't get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter 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 several hundred TV writers. Find previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

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; and by Final Draft scriptwriting software, the entertainment industry standard for scriptwriting worldwide.

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

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October 24 2011

Podcast: Screenwriters Derek Haas, Michael Brandt on The Double

Famed action-thriller screenwriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (Wanted, 3:10 to Yuma, 2 Fast 2 Furious) take it up a notch to direct and produce their new thriller The Double. Starring Richard Gere, Topher Grace, and Martin Sheen, the film is about an ex-CIA agent who is suddenly pulled back onto a case he thought was long dead.

Brandt makes his directorial debut with the script co-written Haas, and Haas produces. Script sat down with the writing team to talk about tackling a thriller, staying true to their genre, and producing a passion project from the ground up.

Podcast highlights:

  • "You have to infuse every single scene in a thriller with conflict and tension ..."
  • "The tension has to come organically from the premise of the movie ..."
  • "Too much outlining might mean you're afraid to start writing your script ..."
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