Behind the Screen: Writing for TV Today – and Tomorrow
Monday, February 24, 2014
In the past decade, primetime TV has transformed itself from what critics once derided as a “vast wasteland” to the long-form equivalent of Oscar-winning movies and indie films.
There’s the edgy stylishness of “CSI,” “ER,” and “Game of Thrones”; the nuance and subtext of “Mad Men,” “Downton Abbey,” and “The Good Wife”; and the machine-gun dialogue of “24,” “Homeland,” and “House of Cards.”
There were decade-definers like “Lost” and “The Sopranos,” and anti-heroes like “House,” “Dexter,” and “The Mentalist.”
But what does it all mean for the people who actually write and create these shows?
How does a writer get a chance to write for today’s TV shows, anyway?
And how will TV adapt — or fail to adapt — to the massive technological changes that have already taken their tolls on print magazines, bookstores, and home video?
How will the new business models of “binge watching” TV shows on Netflix or DVD change how TV is written — and watched?
And in today’s era of self-publishing, blogging, indie filmmaking, and YouTube – can you have your own “TV show”, without having to go through a network or cable gatekeeper?
All this and more will be revealed.
DAVID RAMBO is the author of the plays “The Lady with All the Answers” (off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre starring Judith Ivey; Lortel nomination), “God’s Man in Texas,” “The Ice-Breaker,” “Babbitt,” an all-new book for Lerner and Loewe’s “Paint Your Wagon,” and “The Lifeguard: Ronald Reagan and his Story.” His plays have been widely produced at regional theatres throughout the country, including Actors Theatre of Louisville, Geffen Playhouse, Old Globe, Denver Center Theatre, Alliance Theatre and Pasadena Playhouse. He has adapted several classic screenplays for live performance, including “All About Eve,” “Casablanca,” “Adam’s Rib,” and “Sunset Boulevard,” produced at the Hollywood Bowl. For television, David is currently a co-executive producer and writer of the NBC series “Revolution,” produced by J.J. Abrams. Among other TV credits, David spent seven seasons writing and producing “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of N. Carolina School of the Arts.
JULIA COX is a film and television writer and graduate of USC’s MFA program in screenwriting. She is the writers assistant on this past season of “Parenthood” (NBC) and she previously worked on “Cult” (CW) and “Luck” for HBO. She currently has a feature in development with DiNovi (“Monte Carlo,” ”The Lucky One,” “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “Catwoman,” “A Walk to Remember”), and Cox is currently co-writing a pilot with McG (“The O.C.,” “Chuck,” “Supernatural,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Terminator Salvation”).
JACK P. MOORE is a staff writer on Fox’s hit sitcom “Us & Them,” a gig he got the Internet-era, do-it-yourself way in part from being the snarky co-creator of the ultra-popular Twitter-comedy, “Modern Seinfeld.” He has performed in standup comedy at several top New York clubs, was a sports columnist for BuzzFeed and appeared as a “talking head” on numerous cable TV sports and political shows. Additionally, the all-over-the-place Moore has produced several hilarious and high-rated YouTube comedy videos and clips, and authored (among others) the hilariously transgressive satirical play, “Killing John Grisham.”
JEFF PORTER is founder, President, and CEO of Porter Pictures, one of the leading producers services agencies in Beverly Hills, having successfully sold projects to HBO, Showtime, Starz/Encore, Cinemax, Discovery, BET, and countless international outlets. Prior to that, Jeff was Vice President in charge of sales at another leading producers’ rep, where he found placement for over 75 independent feature films, documentaries, TV formats, and financing or completion-funding deals for films. Additionally, Jeff is a principal of Open Vision Networks, a launching, free worldwide cable network for WiFi and mobile devices (smartphones, Kindles, iPads, laptops, WiFi TVs, etc).
JASON SCOGGINS is a veteran literary agent and Founder of SpecScout.com, the site that combines a screenplay coverage library with a scoring system in order to highlight the best scripts circulating Hollywood. Jason got his start at ICM, which led to stints as a TV Literary agent at The Gersh Agency and Writers & Artists Agency. He founded the film development database company ItsOnTheGrid.com, which he sold to The Wrap News, Inc., and most recently joined Baseline as General Manager of Signal, an entertainment marketing service for ad agencies and brands. His weekly newsletter, The Scoggins Report, covers the feature spec script and pitch markets with circulation of nearly 5000 entertainment industry executives and creatives.
TELLY DAVIDSON has written on film, TV, and culture for numerous publications, including Yahoo Movies, FilmStew, 213 Magazine, Guitar Player, the American Film Institute, Entertainment Today — even The Frum Forum (on the right) and Progressive Populist (on the left). His book “TV’s Grooviest Variety Shows” was honored by the Television Academy, and he has worked on several TV specials for NBC and PBS including “Pioneers of Television II.” He is an active member of IWOSC and PEN and has served on several IWOSCS panels including “Biographies & Memoirs,” “Trends in Publishing,” “Covering the Celebrity Beat,” “Don’t Get Scammed,” and “Books to Film.”