As I was saying...
I threw out a 1 hour idea that people actually liked, and now I had to go pitch it to a woman I had gone on a date with and never called. But the worst part was that aside from a logline, I had no pitch. And of course, it being Friday and all, the pitch was scheduled for Monday.
So I had to lock myself in my house and write the entire thing in 2 days. But I figured, I used to dream about getting the ability to be able to pitch my dumb ideas to important people, am I really gonna complain? Maybe a little.
I got it to a place I was relatively happy with. Memorized as much as I could. And marched into her office. I pitched it, and I could tell by the look on their faces that they were horrified by everything coming out of my mouth.
Quite simply, this show wasn't for them.
And here's the fun part about pitching - 5 minutes after you leave the building, you get a phone call. And that phone is a "No". 48 hours of hard work, panic, fear, and stress. 5 minutes later, "Fuck off".
What a waste of a perfectly beautiful, 75 degree weekend in Hermosa Beach. Oh, the bike rides I missed.
So that was dead. No harm, no foul. I still think there's a show there, and I'll pitch it again someday. But remember that director I had met with, who had the coach idea? As I wrote earlier, he liked another of my half hour ideas. Thus, I wrote up a pitch for that and brought it back to him.
I pitched it...and he loved it! We started talking about which networks it might be good for. He previously had some conversations with ABC, and they were looking for something just like this. Excitement all around.
But we both had deals with the same big production company. So before going to all the networks, as a formality, we had to pitch it to them first.
So he comes with me to the big production company and we meet with a woman. A woman with eyes that look in two different directions at once. I can't tell you how distracting it is to pitch to someone who can stare straight ahead yet see opposite sides of the room.
Somehow, I didn't get distracted and the pitch went well. Handshakes and pats on the back. The director was proud of my performance. Yey!
I got in my car, and 5 minutes later, my phone rang. "No".
She didn't like it. Oh, Crazy Eyez Killa didn't like it. She didn't like it so much that she wouldn't even allow us to pitch it to the networks. How bad does something have to be that you won't even allow it to be spoken out loud. What's gonna happen? They're gonna say no?! Yeah, kinda used to that. It's okay if they say no. That's their job. But at least let us pitch it!
Now let's look at this for a second. This big production company was paying this director a shit load of money to bring them projects. He's directed giant movies. They're paying me to bring them ideas. I've written on successful TV shows. We both think this is a good idea with potential. And this woman says no. No notes, no guidance, just no.
Who is this woman? This one woman. Who? I'll tell you. She used to answer phones for someone. And then she got promoted because she was so good at answering phones (this isn't to knock her personal career path, this is just how the "executive" world works. And then they go from answering phones to having a crazy amount of power). And here are the shows she's worked on since getting that promotion:
Don't Trust the B-- (canceled after 2 seasons), The New Normal (canceled after 1 season), The Goodwin Games (canceled after 1 season), How to Live With Your Parents (canceled after 1 season), and 1600 Penn (canceled after 1 season).
But she gets to say no. And that was it. Of course, as expected, ABC bought a show very, very similar to mine 2 weeks later.
So that was my development season. Pretty frustrating. But I learned a lot, and will try to do things differently next time around.
Now let's talk about someone else's development season. Let's talk about a guy I probably shouldn't name, but who we'll call AK.
I sold ZERO shows. Heck, I wasn't even allowed to pitch my shows to the network. AK, on the other hand, by my count, sold 14.
But it was an off year for him. Because last year he sold 16.
Who is AK, you ask? 30 shows in 2 years is insane, is he a writer? Nope. Never written a thing. Is he a big time director? Nope. Never directed a thing. Is he a creative producer, a Jerry Bruckheimer type? Not as far as I can tell.
He's a former agent...and that's about it. Now he's a producer. And with all of these sales, what does he have to show for it? "Terra Nova", and "The Neighbors". Seriously, those are the two that have actually gotten on the air. Oh, and I think the brilliant "Back in the Game" is his too.
Does anyone care that this guy's track record is garbage? Apparently not.
Now, I have nothing against this him. He's doing his thing and doing it extremely well. I'm sure he's great, and I would love, love, love to have him work with me, because clearly, it would give me a far better chance to sell something. I'm just questioning the system where the networks buy 30 things from this one person.
He used to be the head of scripted TV for a big agency. He knows everyone. He has relationships with these people. For some reason, they fear him. He doesn't have talent, but he attaches himself with people who do. And somehow it has snowballed for him.
He seeks out projects from people the networks pre-like, and leverages them to get other projects sold. At least, I think that's what happens. Maybe some of the Hollywood insiders who read this blog can better explain how AK has taken over development season.
But after you buy from him, then what? If I buy from Chuck Lorre or Jason Katims, I have an expectation that they know how to make a good/popular show. They're going to put their personal touch on everything, as they've done in the past. What's AK going to do? What skills does he have, besides being able to sell something to executives in a room?
That brings us back to good ol' Rashida Jones. There was some misunderstanding about what I was saying about her, so let me state again yes, of course, Rashida Jones attached to something as a "producer" can get a TV show sold. But after it is sold, how does she make a TV show successful? What does she contribute as a producer to make a script better? And the same goes for this AK fellow. Yes, I agree, having him attached can for sure get your thing sold. There is no doubt about that. But what is he bringing to the table as far as making it a good show that people will want to watch?
Speaking of Rashida, Krysten Ritter also sold something like 4 different shows this year, with herself attached as "executive producer". Krysten Ritter. She of the failed, aforementioned, "Don't Trust the B--". A show that no one watched. America is not interested in Krysten Ritter. And they're so not interested, that the networks decided she was a hot commodity and bought 4 things she was willing to put her name on. I don't understand this.
And even if she was hot shit, and America's sweetheart, would that still be a good idea? Because Michael J. Fox is that person, and his show - that he's not just exec producing but starring in too, is getting a 1.2. And that's Michael J. Fox! It doesn't matter.
How about Mike O'Malley? How many sitcoms has that motherfucker had? Well, on Thursday his latest did a .8. And guess what? He'll get another one next year. Or Jerry O'Connell. His last show: canceled after 3 episodes. This year? Canceled after 2. These people don't matter. But they do during pitch season.
What does all of this mean? Well, it means that I am a sad and bitter person. But we already knew that! It means the pilots next year are going to look almost identical to the shitty pilots this year. It means the system isn't changing and probably never will.
I know I sound like a whiner and a cry baby, but this isn't isolated to just me. I know some extremely talented writers, more talented and a lot more accomplished than me, who had an identical experience to me this year. And yet AK and Rashida and Krysten and others who have nothing to do with actually writing the stories or the jokes are selling things left and right! Strange.
If I'm so smart, what would I do if I were them? Pretty simple. I wouldn't buy shows from an agent, or actors, but from people who have run successful shows in the past. And I wouldn't let the person who got promoted from answering phones give them notes, at least any notes that they were forced to take.
I'm sure this wouldn't work that well, and I'm also sure it would work way better than what's happening now.
Okay, let's all put this behind us and return to happier things...selling to cable!