TV Writer Podcast - Audio
093 - Sarah Watson (Creator of The Bold Type, Author of Most Likely)

093 - Sarah Watson (Creator of The Bold Type, Author of Most Likely)

April 6, 2020

This week, host Gray Jones returns to the Skype format due to the Coronavirus quarantine, but you're sure to love his interview with Sarah Watson, creator of The Bold Type and executive producer on Parentood!

Episode 093 is sponsored by Pilar Alessandra of onthepage.tv. Pilar is offering a 10% discount on her interactive online class, Writing the First Draft, which started April 4th, but can be joined any time up to the second class on April 11th. To get your 10% off, use the code onthepage10 at checkout. 

Sarah is very open about the challenges along the way, and how she was able to spin some of the toughest experiences into victories, including her incredibly hopeful young adult novel, Most Likely. Just like the message of the book, she is optimistic that the world is changing for the better, and that the upcoming generation will be the key.

Learn about the innovative way she turned a class she taught at UCLA into a virtual writers room... how getting on staff wasn't the Holy Grail, but each new opportunity taught her invaluable lessons... how getting onto a network show really propelled her career forward, and how she really found her voice working with Jason Katims on Parenthood... how and why she cancelled a meeting and went straight to Disneyland to buy a season's pass... how taking a year off and being unavailable turned her into a hot commodity, even leading to a successful pitch to Steven Spielberg and an option on her book!

She also talks about what it was like to be in production on a pilot and getting ready for the big launch of her book, and having to shut it all down overnight because of COVID-19.

INDEX TO THE EPISODE:

0:00 - Introduction
2:57 - Interview starts
3:15 - Shooting pilot, book launch interrupted by COVID-19
9:45 - TV writing course Sarah teaches at UCLA, and why that program is special
13:38 - How Sarah got started, working on Rachel’s Room
15:23 - Early days, how Sarah got on staff
18:44 - How Sarah’s career really took off when she landed a gig on a network show
24:21 - Working on The Middleman with Javi Grillo-Marxuach
26:37 - Writing on Parenthood, and how she really found her voice
29:14 - How she got an overall deal and started to develop shows
34:50 - All the details about developing The Bold Type which is on its fourth season
38:38 - How a soul crushing year led to a hopeful YA novel
44:20 - Details about her untitled re-enactment pilot, and pitching to Steven Spielberg
50:59 - On adapting her YA novel for Amazon
51:45 - Advice to greener writers

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahWatson42

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 previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

Upcoming weekly interviews will include Arika Lisanne Mittman (Paradise Lost, Timeless), Michael Narducci (The Originals), and lots more!

092 - Bob Goodman (Creator of The Zeta Project, EP of Elementary)

092 - Bob Goodman (Creator of The Zeta Project, EP of Elementary)

March 30, 2020

The TV Writer Podcast is back, and better than before! In our re-launch, host Gray Jones will be primarily interviewing showrunners and EP level writers. We'll be moving away from the focus on the newbie writer, and aiming more at the oft-neglected staff to mid-level writer. There is now a dedicated audio-only feed at iTunes, Podbean, Spotify and coming soon to Pandora. You can access the video version via YouTube, iTunes, Podbean, and on the web at tvwriterpodcast.com. Follow @GrayJones on Twitter for updates on upcoming interviews, and be sure to subscribe, like, and post reviews on all of these aggregators. We'll be bringing WEEKLY episodes every Monday during the stay-at-home order due to Coronavirus / COVID-19.

In episode 092, sponsored by Pilar Alessandra of onthepage.tv, host Gray Jones interviews Bob Goodman, winner of two Daytime Emmy Awards, creator of The Zeta Project, and EP of Elementary and Supervising Producer for Warehouse 13. Speaking of On The Page, Pilar is offering a 10% discount on her interactive online class, Writing the First Draft, which starts April 4th. To get your 10% off, use the code onthepage10 at checkout. 

Topics of discussion in the interview included: 

• What to consider when choosing college programs.
• Singing the praises of the Children of Tendu podcast.
• The 5 most important things to succeed in Hollywood.
• How to avoid getting pigeon-holed.
• How to pick the right jobs for your resume.
• Why he feels we need to purge “paying your dues” from our lexicon.
• The glut of Peak TV with 500+ shows — why it is more competitive than ever.
• Going from animated show creator / showrunner to 1 hour drama staff writer.
• About development at the EP level.
• About picking your battles with the network.
• How a show is staffed.
• Do’s and don’ts in staffing meetings.
• How your job is to get into the showrunner’s head.
• What needs to be on the page when staffing, and what is the kiss of death?
• On why taking the long view is so important when looking at your career.

If you are interested in breaking in, check out Bob's other excellent interviews on episode 8 of the Creative Writing Career podcast, and on Storybeat with Steve Cuden.

Be sure to watch until the end, and listen for the contest code -- if you follow GrayJones and tweet the contest code before Friday, April 3rd, you will be entered into a draw to win... 2 rolls of toilet paper! Other prizes may be added too.

Bob Goodman official bio:

Bob Goodman is a television writer-producer who most recently served as Executive Producer on the hit CBS TV series Elementary, and before that he wrote and produced on Syfy’s Warehouse 13.

Prior to his work in live-action, Bob wrote for many years in animation, primarily as a staffer at Warner Bros. His credits include Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond, Justice League Unlimited and Ben Ten; plus he created and ran the Batman Beyond spin-off The Zeta Project. He’s written web-series and videogames including the Dungeons & Dragons game Demon Stone, and several direct-to-DVD animated features including the two-part Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

Bob has received two Daytime Emmy Awards, as well as an Annie Award nomination for Individual Achievement in Writing. He currently has a pilot in development at ABC.

Follow Bob on Twitter: @b0bg00dman

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 previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

Upcoming weekly interviews will include Sarah Watson (The Bold Type, The Goonies reboot), Arika Lisanne Mittman (Paradise Lost, Timeless), Michael Narducci (The Originals), and lots more!

PLEASE NOTE: ON THE FIRST VERSION OF THE PODCAST GRAPHIC, BOB WAS INCORRECTLY SHOWN AS EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF WAREHOUSE 13. THIS WAS QUICKLY CORRECTED.

091 – “How I Wrote That” Podcast Host Khanisha Foster (mp3)

091 – “How I Wrote That” Podcast Host Khanisha Foster (mp3)

March 7, 2020

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This week, Gray Jones interviews Khanisha Foster, host of the Stephen’s College M.F.A program’s “How I Wrote That” podcast, which features Hollywood’s most successful working female writers discussing their journey and current projects.

Khanisha Foster is a mixed race actress, writer, teaching artist, the Associate Artistic Director of 2nd Story and a TCG’s Young Leader of Color. She is currently enrolled in the M.F.A program and touring with her Solo Show “Actor of Color.”

Follow Khanisha on Twitter: @KhanishaFoster.

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 our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

First published July 5, 2016.

090 – Touched By An Angel, A Prairie Home Companion Writer Ken LaZebnik (mp3)

090 – Touched By An Angel, A Prairie Home Companion Writer Ken LaZebnik (mp3)

March 7, 2020

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Ken LaZebnik is the founder and director of the Master of Fine Arts in TV and Screenwriting program at Stephens College, a low residency program based in Hollywood, which aims to increase the number of female writers working in Hollywood.

Ken writes for television, film and the theater. His work includes collaborating with Garrison Keillor on Robert Altman’s last film, A Prairie Home Companion, and many years of writing and producing for hour-long television dramas, including seven years of writing and producing the drama Touched By An Angel. Two of his plays have won citations from The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA). His first book, Hollywood Digs: An Archaeology of Shadows, was published in 2014 by Kelly’s Cove Press – a collection of essays about personal encounters with Hollywood history.

LaZebnik’s feature work includes the Lionsgate film Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage, released in 2008, starring Peter O’Toole and Marcia Gay Harden. His television writing has also included Army Wives, Providence, Star Trek: Enterprise, and the new series When Calls The Heart on the Hallmark Channel.

Ken’s plays have frequently been premiered at The Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, directed by Jack Reuler. The most recent of these collaborations was On The Spectrum, which premiered in November, 2011. On The Spectrum was awarded a Steinberg Citation from the American Theatre Critics Association, and had a successful run in Los Angeles at the Fountain Theatre. Other plays Mixed Blood has premiered include Vestibular Sense, League of Nations, and Calvinisms.

His play Rachel Calof, adapted from the memoir of a Jewish homesteader in North Dakota, is a one-woman show starring Kate Fuglei. His play Theory of Mind, commissioned for young audiences by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, has also been produced in Minnesota, Hawaii and Michigan.

Follow Ken on Twitter: @KenLaZebnik.

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 our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

First published May 31, 2016.

089 – Kirby Buckets Co-Creator Mike Alber (mp3)

089 – Kirby Buckets Co-Creator Mike Alber (mp3)

March 7, 2020

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Remember Mike Alber’s incredible story in episode 035? Well, hold on to your hats, because he’s got a lot more to share in this follow up interview! How did he go from zombies to cartoons? Read on and watch!

When we last caught up with Mike Alber, he and co-writer Gabe Snyder were staffed on MTV’s Death Valley. When it didn’t get renewed, they took a lot of meetings around town, but nothing seemed to click. It was a general meeting at Disney XD that would take their careers in a whole new direction.

Mike tells the incredible story of how he and Gabe wrote and shot the pilot for Kirby Buckets, and when it didn’t test well, Disney XD actually gave them the chance to do a rewrite and shoot it again with different actors! Not only did the second pilot fly, but Disney XD ordered 20 episodes in the first season, and 26 episodes for the second.

Mike has a lot of practical advice for both upcoming and working writers, based on several more years experience under his belt, and staffing his own show.

Make sure you watch his previous interview in episode 035 as well, as he went into great detail about his unique path in to the industry.

Follow Mike on Twitter: @malber or @malber2000.

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 our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

First published November 20, 2015.

088 – Jimmy Kimmel Writer, 2nd Smartest in the World Rick Rosner (mp3)

088 – Jimmy Kimmel Writer, 2nd Smartest in the World Rick Rosner (mp3)

March 7, 2020

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What would you do if you were ranked among the top three smartest people in the world? This week’s guest, TV comedy writer Rick G. Rosner, is sure to surprise you with his answers!

Rick G. Rosner is not your typical genius. From attending high school not twice, but three times, to working as a bouncer and nude model, Rick has taken a very atypical path to becoming a TV writer.

From his first opportunity writing for an MTV show in 1987, to a large number of clip shows, comedy shows and pilots, to a long stint with Jimmy Kimmel, Rick has worked in many forms of comedy writing.

Be sure to watch to the end, when he shares many helpful tips on breaking in to comedy writing.

Follow Rick on Twitter: @dumbassgenius

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 our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

First published October 30, 2015.

087 – Hand of God Creator/Showrunner Ben Watkins (mp3)

087 – Hand of God Creator/Showrunner Ben Watkins (mp3)

March 7, 2020

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Ben Watkins moved 14 times by the time he graduated high school. As a kid, his experiences ran the gamut from living in a fancy, gated community, to being homeless and sleeping in a 1976 Ford Monarch. He was married and had a family by the time he graduated college.

Before he turned to writing, Ben had worked more than 30 jobs ranging from plastics salesman to paralegal to soap opera stud. With such an eclectic background, it’s no wonder he has emerged as one of the most original storytellers in television.

Ben Watkins began the transition to writing with the award-winning Sundance short film Quest to Ref, which he wrote, co-directed and starred in. Soon after adapting that project into a feature screenplay for Universal, Watkins joined USA Network’s Burn Notice. He rose from staff writer to executive producer, before moving on to create the provocative Amazon Originals series, Hand of God. Watkins recently completed production on season one of Hand of God, which premiered in September.

Ben resides in El Segundo, California, with his wife and four sons.

Follow Ben on Twitter: @_benipedia_

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 our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

First published September 30, 2015.

086 – Automatic Pilot Author Bill Taub (mp3)

086 – Automatic Pilot Author Bill Taub (mp3)

March 7, 2020

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Bill Taub has written and produced hundreds of hours of television over several decades, including many pilots that have gone to series. His new book on TV pilot writing, Automatic Pilot, is an indispensable tool for your arsenal!

Bill Taub is a native New Yorker who’s gone from Forest Hills to Beverly Hills. He has been obsessed with television since he was five, and considers himself a student as well as a participant in the medium. He came to television writing through advertising, as a writer-producer, Clio winner, and creative trouble shooter at several New York agencies.

His decades of experience in the industry have included both drama and comedies, including such hits as Barney Miller, Hill Street Blues, Newhart, and Cagney & Lacey. Pilots he has written that have gone to series have included Friday the 13th: The Series, The Odyssey, and Relic Hunter.

The more he studies the work of those he admires most, the one thing that becomes apparent is they either didn’t know all the rules, or they ignored them. It’s their originality, their uniqueness, that have made their work such a tremendous success. Whether it’s the work of David Shore, David Kelley, David Milch, or Larry David (the confederacy of “Davids” as he calls them), they didn’t know what they weren’t supposed to do — or didn’t know what they didn’t know.

Recently, Bill distilled the system he created and developed for his UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Workshop into the book Automatic Pilot.

Bill splits his time between Los Angeles and Toronto, where his wife’s family resides. He keeps himself busy with half a dozen other projects, pilots, web series, consulting, as well as occasionally teaching online thru the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and the Laugh Factory.

Follow Bill on Twitter: @BillyTaub

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 our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

First published September 1, 2014.

085 – San Diego Comic-Con Panel - How to Write a TV Pilot (mp3)

085 – San Diego Comic-Con Panel - How to Write a TV Pilot (mp3)

March 7, 2020

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Couldn’t make it to Gray’s How To Write a TV Pilot panel at Comic-Con this year? No problem! Here is the complete video, including Q & A.

CONTEST/EXTRAS LINK: http://tvwriterpodcast.com/pilot

Have you ever thought of a perfect idea for a TV series? Find out how to write it! Gray Jones moderates a discussion and Q & A with powerhouse panelists Jen Grisanti, William Rabkin, Bill Taub, and Carole Kirschner. Get that idea from your brain to the screen!

Great questions were fielded from the packed house, including how to write a show bible, differences between one hour drama and sitcom writing, as well as single camera versus multi camera sitcoms, creating a TV show with an ensemble cast, and lots more!

Did you know that writing a spec episode of an existing show is still recommended for your portfolio? Find out why! Which screenwriting contests are the best for TV scripts? All these answers and more are found in this hour-long video!

MODERATOR:

Gray Jones (@GrayJones) – TV Editor/Writer, Author (Breaking In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews)

PANELISTS:

Jen Grisanti (@JenGrisanti) – Story/Career Consultant, Author (Story Line: Finding the Gold In Your Life Story, TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write A Script that Sells)

William Rabkin (@WritingThePilot) – TV Writer, Author (Writing the Pilot, Successful Television Writing)

Bill Taub (@BillyTaub) – TV Writer, Author (Automatic Pilot)

Carole Kirschner (@Carole_POTL) – Director, WGA Show Runner Training Program, Author (Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, TV and Digital Entertainment)

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 our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

First published August 28, 2014.

084 – Unseen Africa Pilot Producer/Host Francis Tapon (mp3)

084 – Unseen Africa Pilot Producer/Host Francis Tapon (mp3)

March 7, 2020

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Author, Harvard MBA grad and world-renowned backpacker Francis Tapon is on a 4-year journey to all 54 African countries. How can he turn this into a 4-season TV series? By going a non-traditional route, of course!

The TV landscape continues to divide into thousands of channels, and it seems there’s a new online distribution player every month. More channels means less advertising per channel, and budgets are shrinking. Higher budget shows may be in trouble, but there’s a veritable gold rush for independent producers who can produce great content more cheaply. The challenge is that the funding models are different, and very few have a handle on the best strategy to stay ahead of this rapidly changing field.

Francis Tapon, a successful author and world traveler, has a promising idea for an episodic documentary series, called The Unseen Africa. But like Corinna Mendis, who shot her own scripted pilot, Francis has decided to forego the traditional pitch process and produce a full pilot himself, assisted by a Kickstarter campaign for part of the budget.

Will he be successful? Is this a viable path to getting your own reality or documentary series off the ground? Find out on this week’s podcast!

A little more about Francis:

Francis Tapon is a world-renowned author and world traveler, author of The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us and Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America.

He walked across America four times: he thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 2007, became the first to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. In 2009, he was one of the finalists for the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, which “features nominees who are world-renowned for their skills and who have helped inspire thousands of others to take part in the great outdoors.”

Though he speaks several languages due to his South American and French ancestry, Francis hails from San Francisco.

More info on The Unseen Africa Kickstarter campaign: CLICK HERE

Follow Francis Tapon on Twitter: @ftapon

Francis Tapon’s blog and website: francistapon.com

The Unseen Africa website: theunseenafrica.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 1,200 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

First published May 25, 2014.