TV Writing: 2019 Goals And Getting Started

22 01 2019


55117cc3ba0ec016cc87016cabf3b11aHappy New Year! Have you been procrastinating like me and not writing the script you’ve been wanting to write? Maybe you’ve written the outline and know exactly what you want to write, but can’t get motivated to sit down and just bang it out.

I’m right there with you! I’ve been doing the same exact thing. A few months ago I wrote an outline for a pilot and even promised my agent that I was going to finally get that first draft to her… that was a month ago! So I’m on this journey with you:

Here are the 5 things I’ve had to remind myself to get motivated to write this script, hope they help you!

  1. Just start writing – If you’re stuck or feeling unmotivated, just sit down at your computer and just start writing. Write anything. Something you saw that was funny. Something you want your family to do next holiday season.  Something you wish happened on your last vacation… Often if  you  just start writing, you’ll keep writing. Do this every day for a week!
  2. Carve out just 30 minutes to write every single day for a month –  Thirty minutes is nothing. You probably spend 10X that on social media. Just sit down at your computer and set a timer and start tapping those keys. Likely by the end of that month you will have your first two scenes completed and will feel motivated to continue.
  3.   Remind Yourself Why You’re Writing – Do you hate your day job? do you want to move to LA but need to feel like you’re ready to go there? Do you want to be a writer on Saturday Night Live or a Netflix show?  Whatever your reason, write that down on a post-it and put it on your computer, your mirror, your coffee mug.  Remind yourself that the pain of getting started will be rewarded by the end goal.
  4. . Don’t Judge – If you’re sitting in constant judgement of every word you write, you’re not going to be successful.  So give yourself a break in the first draft. I have a client who always writes “dummy dialogue” in his first draft and if i get nitpicky on his dialogue during our notes call, he will be like that’s just a placeholder! Just get that first draft done and then you can go back in and massage the entire script. this is important because often times you get to know the characters more throughout writing your script and therefore you will know more about them and their typical reactions, their needs, how they talk, their voice as you go back in and do the rewrite and re-craft their actions and dialogue you wrote in the beginning of the script.
  5. Reward Yourself For Writing – When you work, you get a paycheck, that is your reward for doing your job. When you write a pilot or spec script for a contest or TV Fellowship, you can feel like you’re never going to see that reward. Therefore, give yourself one. Spring for a latte, get a pedicure, treat yourself to a cupcake. Pick whatever it is that you will feel great getting to encourage yourself to kick start the writing. Pedicure and cupcakes are my go tos, what are yours? You don’t have it do it every single time you sit and write if you don’t want, but maybe if it gets you going, then after you complete you first draft, then after you send your script to your friend or agent. Each accomplishment can have a different reward.

Here’s to a motivating 2019 where you complete your scripts, submit them on time to fellowships and contests and feel so accomplished that you’re working to your TV and film writing goal.

TV Writers and Clients

12 09 2016


I am so proud of all my clients! I’ve had a number of them become finalists in all of the fellowships – from ABC to Warner Bros to FOX and everything in between. Check out my post on fellowships and their importance to your career.

This year one of my clients was offered a job writing on a new FOX drama to premiere this fall. I’m so psyched for him. We have worked together for years on his scripts and I couldn’t be more proud of the work we did to help him get this coveted writing spot!

These past few years have been so rewarding seeing all my clients grow into their career and improve their writing skills. I have so many repeat clients and so many new ones and I can’t wait to see what this year will bring. If you want to become a TV writer it’s completely totally possible!  Just work with me, work hard and you too could be like J. writing on a hot new show on FOX!


TV Fellowship Season

5 05 2016

I’ve been really eager to write a post about fellowship season. It’s the time of year when the best TV fellowships (think ABC/Disney, Warner Bros, etc) open up for applications. Now how do I qualify them as the best? Well for the Disney fellowship, they actually hire you and place you on one of their shows where you get incredible experience and access and while you might not make as much as the regular writers on the staff, you still are afforded an incredible opportunity, one that will lead to those great paying jobs on a TV show.  I have a number of friends who went through the program and have since gone on to continue to write for the show they were placed on or gotten agents and moved onto other shows. So the Disney fellowship opens a lot of doors and open doors is what you need when you’re starting out this is one of the top tier fellowships. I read for this fellowship a few years ago… I was really fascinated about what people submitted, suffice it to say, the cream rose to the top fairly quickly.

The most important part of the application process is the script. I read a ton of scripts during fellowship season. And I turn them around really quickly because the writers are up against a deadline. I always recommend that people start sending me scripts in February in case there’s a lot of work to be done and they want plenty of time to address those notes! But now it’s may and it’s too late for that! Also in February, no one is thinking about their applications, they’re thinking about how much they will drink during spring break! But the script is your meal ticket, it has to be strong and have a clear point of view and it has to stand out.

Another component of the application process is getting a personal recommendation from a TV or film writer. This is usually a major hurdle to overcome if people don’t know of any. I’ve written those letter for my clients since I have a really good insight into how they write, rewrite and how they address notes and their willingness to listen and learn.  Trust me, I’ve worked with writers on shows who completely lose their mind if you want to change “happy birthday,” to “happy bday” in their script during a rewrite. #TrueStory. I’m able to offer these fellowships insight that no one else can. It should be mentioned that I only write a recommendation if I have worked with the client on 3 or more scripts. I wouldn’t feel comfortable otherwise. But again this process needs to start early because you have to figure out someone who is willing to do this for you and track them down.

Another thing that may take some time is the application itself. This year Disney wanted an essay!? Really? Am i applying to college? Regardless, if they want it they get it.  My advice: write the answer you want to write, not the one you think they want to hear. It will be more authentic and that will really resonate with them. In the early 2000s when I was a writers assistant and was on hiatus, I would coach rich kids from top LA high schools on how to write their college application essays, so for this year, I’m happy to announce a new package that would include notes on your essay. Please reach out!

Finally, I go on writer boards and read a ton of “don’t write this, never do this etc” with regards to writing a spec for these programs, and they almost always advice from people who have never written for TV professionally and their advice is almost always wrong. Don’t listen to any of it!   Write specs you are passionate about. Don’t write one that you think will just give you a competitive advantage, none of that helps if you don’t love the show you’re speccing and know the show inside and out. You need to know the show, the voices of each character and be really passionate about the story you want to tell that those characters can bring to life!

Good luck! I’ve been reading a ton of really fantastic scripts this year! Really proud of my clients! There’s still time for my help if you want it!


The New Muppet Show

3 02 2016

In case you haven’t heard, the new Muppets show has been rebooted and my friend Kristin Newman is at the helm. Yes a female showrunner! Great news! She took over half way through the season when the old show runners were not working out.  And the critics are loving the new energy and joy she’s bringing back to show.  It will be interesting to see how the audience responds. You should definately take a look! But since this is about being a TV writer, you should watch a few episodes from the old showrunners and a few episodes from the new one. Watch and learn how the characters or tone or jokes have changed. There’s few opportunities to put the same show side by side and evaluate it from a writing perspective.  I’m curious to see how you would analyze it and how you would rate it.  This is a great exercise for those who really want to get into TV writing.  And hey one day you might meet Kristin and you will have tons of insight into how she turned a dying show around! Here’s a photo of Kermit and I hanging back stage! My son is very impressed!IMG_5329.JPG

Essential Writing Books

1 02 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about what books I benefited from when starting on in the business or along my path! Overall, I would say (and many writers would agree) that there’s not one singular book that is the end all be all. Or whose recommendations you should follow to the tee.  I read a ton and pulled little pieces of wisdom from each book.

Often people get so outraged about a particular book and mock the author for only have produced 1 feature film. Not sure if it’s inspired by jealousy, or hatred of their movie, or what. But getting even 1 feature film produced and released might be one of the biggest accomplishments one can achieve.  So if a fellow writer tells you that they don’t read books because they bastardize the craft, read it anyway and see what you can take from the book to help you learn more about writing. Here is a list of books that I have leaned on as well as recommendations from other writers who found value in these books.

Save The Cat – People feel like this book encourages a formulaic approach to writing a screen play.  That is true and you don’t need to follow it exactly, but it’s helpful for understanding the basic structure of feature film. Also tips and tricks with character development and other things that help you in TV writing.

Story by Bob Mckee  – It’s a lot more philosophical than formulaic. Especially useful for approaching second and third drafts.

Writing the TV Drama Series – If you’re interested in writing a TV drama, this is a great one to check out. She’s a professor at USC so this is a lot cheaper then tuition there!

Writing Dialogue – I think the title of the book says it all, but there’s more to this craft than meets the eye. Don’t write a single piece of dialogue until you know how to write for a character! It’s not as easy as it looks!

The TV Writers Workbook –  Highly rated, 90% of those who read it, give it 5 stars! What I like most about this book is that it’s written by an actual TV writer. I have found tons of books that are not written by people who have produced anything and that is very frustrating. The best advice comes from those who have been in the trenches and know the truth behind the TV magic.

Sick in the head by Judd Apatow – This one is more about the process of comedy and the life of comedians. This isn’t a traditional writing process book, but nevertheless, an interesting look at life in comedy.  It’s not all fun and games. In fact for many people there’s neither fun nor games! Read it to find out more. I love that Judd has this insane history or interviewing comics in high school because his passion for the genre is so deep.

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3 Things You Must Not Do When Pitching A TV Show

14 09 2015

It’s been a busy 2 years! I moved to NYC, got married, had a baby and I didn’t get on a show in NYC… so close. That story is in a different post below!

Anyway, now it’s go time, and I’ve been working on my pitch to take out this development season. As you all know, late summer/early fall is when the TV networks hear the pitches that comedy writers are looking to sell.  The first step is pitching to production companies.  So that’s where I am.  I’ve pitched it my show a few times, made adjustments (certain areas felt far too long) and this week I continue to pitch.  If one of the production companies want to take it to network, then that’s where we head next in the next few weeks. Its really crunch time!

But what’s interesting is that I’ve made some basic mistakes that I tell my clients not to do… and here I was doing them.Do as I say not as I do?! I couldn’t believe it!  But I didn’t panic, I didn’t freak out and I just left the pitch, addressed my concerns and kept on going. The truth is everyone will tell you “this is your only shot, so don’t screw it up!” But it’s simply not the truth and if you’re a real writer you have to adjust and re-write and adjust and rewrite. So even if one doesn’t go smoothly, you can take steps to ensure the next one does. And this is never your only shot. Even the losers from American Idol are still working!

So here are the 3 mistakes I’ve made, mistakes most writers make and what you can do to course correct when you find yourself doing them!

1. Too many characters – If you’re one of my clients, you know that when i read your pilot, I will call you out if you have too many characters.  Sure the final season of The Office had 20 characters, but the first season there was only 5.  Lost had a million people around but they focused on 5-7 in the pilot. Do not overwhelm your reader with a ton of characters, introducing a new one every page!  There is only so many people the audience can take.  Imagine walking into a room and meeting 25 people all at once.  Can you remember anything about any of them? of course not.  So don’t think the same wont be true when you’re introducing your characters. So I just went in and cut a character – RIP Lindsay.

2. Don’t include too many details, twists and turns of the pilot episode – Have you ever had a friend who tells you a story and includes everything, you zone out and say “uh huh, uh huh..” And then they ask you “I told you that story right?” And you say right, just so you don’t have to hear another story…  So remember this when telling your pilot story. Do not include every single detail. You might think its important, but it might not be. Do you need this to understand what happens at the end? Include it. Does that audience need to know that the 5th guy on the call sheet is going to wear a blue bowtie in the third scene in the pilot – lose it.  So I had to trim out a lot of the fat of the pilot story and keep it more high level so people weren’t getting lost.

3. Pick a lane – I love shows that shoot like my old show, That 70s show. You have a pre-shoot day where we shot all the flashbacks and the 360 circle scenes. We would have no audience. Then on Friday night we would have an audience come in and watch the taping as well as the bits we did on Thursday.  That is a multi cam show, but it had some single camera elements. How I met Your Mother is the same way… but now executives want you to say if its a multi camera or a single cam and here I was pitching a sort of hybrid.  I realized that confused some people and that is NEVER going to help you.  So I cut the confusion and made it a clear cut single camera.  But you never want to be backtracking mid pitch it makes you look like you’re not confident in your idea and vision.#PitchFail

So those are the 3 mistakes I’ve noticed I’ve made thus far!  Does your pitch (or your pilot) have any of these?  Let me know and comment below.

I’ll keep you updated on what happens next!

Calling all TV writers – Great Opportunity

5 05 2015




ABC Casting is seeking original scene submissions for our upcoming Talent Showcase. This is a one night event produced by the ABC Casting Department to showcase new talent to an invited industry audience.

ABC has a long-standing commitment to promoting diversity in the entertainment industry through a variety of projects administered by the ABC Casting Department. The Talent Showcase offers an excellent opportunity for talent that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Since 2012, 25 new writers and 23 original scenes have been selected including 2011 NY Showcase Alum Jermaine Fowler who wrote and performed his original scene, BLACK GENIE. Jermaine recently wrote and starred in DELORES AND JERMAINE, a ½ hour comedy pilot for ABC based on his life. In 2012, NY Showcase participant Andrew Law wrote and performed his original scene, ONCE WE GO BLACK, and went on to join LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS as a staff writer.

Please use the following guidelines:
– Prefer 2 person scenes; comedy or light drama
– Scenes should be 3-5 minutes long with a complete arc (beginning, middle & end)
– Scenes should be no longer than 6 pages; anything exceeding the maximum page count will not be considered
– Simple settings are recommended; small props may be included
– There should be an equal amount of dialogue for each character
– Avoid using excerpts from a larger body of work, e.g., plays and scripts

You must submit a PDF of your scene(s) accompanied by a release form.

To obtain a release form e-mail:

Completed submissions should be sent to the same e-mail address. Please include your full name and “2015 Talent Showcase” in the subject line.

Prior to submitting your scene, it is recommended, but not required that you protect your work by registering it with WGAE Script Registration


23 03 2015

Screen shot 2015-03-23 at 3.05.28 PM

So I was just up for a writing job on a new TV show.  It happened all really fast and since I’ve just been hanging with me and my baby for the past 3 months, i thought this could be fun! It was going to be a really short job, just a few months long and if you know how obsessed I am with my baby, you would know that’s about all the time I’d want to stay away from him!  (during the day only obviously!)

Also the job was in NYC where I’m living right now with said baby and my husband. (hopefully I wont have to stay here much longer, I’m way to Californian to be living in NYC) But I digress…

Anyway, I watched the pilot presentation of the show and really liked it. I thought it was surprisingly funny and clever. Let me tell you that’s not the case. Often times I’m watching the pilot of a show and have to meet with the showrunners right after and I’m going crazy trying to think of nice things to say about the pilot. This was not the case in this show, I genuinely liked it.

So I met with the showrunner. Bam, went great. They brought me back the next day to meet with the head of the production company, BAM, went great. Then they got some references of people I’ve written with before BAM, things were moving and shaking along…

Then they said the star of the show wanted to talk to me… so we hopped on the phone and this celebrity asked me to tell him about myself and then asked me what shows I watched. Well I guess I’m uninteresting and don’t watch good shows (sorry VEEP) because radio silence!  it was a 10 minute conversation which was interrupted because he was traveling and said he couldn’t hear everything I said…

Then today I got the word that it was a no go.

That’s ridiculous. The people who know about TV writing and producing loved me but this guy got to make the call after a phone call where he admitted he couldn’t really hear what I had to say!?!?!

So when I talk to clients and tell them that it’s not always the script, but the stupidest things matter in getting hired, I just lived it!

Austin film festival announces new writing competition!

13 01 2015

According to, “the Austin Film Festival is looking for writers with strong voices who have the potential to establish a digital series. For its 22nd anniversary, the Austin fest is launching the Scripted Digital Series Competition. Both filmed and written submissions will be accepted with the goal of finding talented voices who can adapt their vision to emerging digital platforms. The 2015 fest will run from October 29-November 5.”

This is HUGE!  i love when aspiring writers get doors opened for them.  Who is going for it?

How to write for late night TV shows

8 10 2014


So since I was putting together my Jimmy Kimmel writer packet submission last week, I got a lot of questions from people asking me how to get a job on one of the late night talk shows or a show like SNL.  So I figured I’d blog about how different genres evaluate writers.

Writing on a scripted TV show (ie sitcom or drama)

In order to get hired for a scripted TV show you need to have a number of sample scripts for that genre. So if you’re trying to get a job writing on Modern Family, you should have at least one spec script of an existing single camera half hour TV show and at least two original scripts – also single camera.  Those 3 scripts would really cover all your bases. Now most showrunners will likely read one script, but in case they want to read another you need a back up.  Also most agents won’t sign you unless you have a fully built out portfolio.

Another piece of writing material you would benefit from having (but should not be a priority) could be a short story.  Myself and a number of my friends have gotten show meetings on our short stories that are usually edgy, unexpected and really funny.

It doesn’t matter what spec script you write but you just want it to be a really strong sample.  People always say “well I love Modern Family and have a great story to write for it, but everyone is writing a Modern Family.”  But when I investigate even more, they say that Modern Family is the show they know best and know all the character voices and can write the best. So my theory is, write it. If that’s going to be your best food forward, than you should absolutely have it in your portfolio where it can wow tons of people.

Writing for a late night TV talk show / Saturday Night Live

Getting a job writing on a late night talk show (like Kimmel, Fallon, The Daily Show etc) or a show like SNL works very differently.  When the show wants to hire a new writer, they send out writer packet guidelines to agents and managers to then pass along to their writers.  I’ve written a number of these packets over the years and they’re all pretty much similar.

  • A few pages of monologue jokes (this is more applicable for Fallon or Kimmel etc)
  • 2-8 sketches (4-8 pages long) depending on the show.  The sketches should be very show specific, so for SNL you would probably do a political one, a commercial parody, but for Kimmel you would do one that is on brand for Kimmel meaning sending Guillermo out to do something ridiculous or have man on the street interviews showing how dumb the average american is.
  • Most shows ask you to just pitch 5 or so sketch ideas, not written out in their entirety but just to give them a general idea about what you think is funny and then if you truly get the types of sketches the show typically does.

Packet Tips

The packets are a lot of work, but also a ton of fun.

  • Don’t write something you want to write but isn’t right for the show you’re writing for: Before you start writing the packet make sure you watch the show to see what type of jokes they usually write.  For example, Fallon is very family friendly, so edgy jokes woudln’t be apropriate. So no matter how much you love your edgy joke and are dying to show someone how funny you can be about an inapropriate topic, Fallon isn’t the venue to showcae it.  In fact you will just be demonstrating you don’t know the voice of the show and will immediately get dinged.
  • They give you a very limited time frame to write them, usually only a few days. Which is longer than what you would have timewise to come up with timely monologue jokes if you were writing on the actual show, so don’t get too precious about your writing because you don’t have time to.
  • Know the characters on the show you will need to write for. Know that Kimmel always talks to Guillermo or on Weekend Update they often have the character Drunk Uncle.  The show will want to see you know that it’s not just the host that can be involved in sketches.
  • Make sure you are writing really timely material.  Don’t recycle a joke you wrote for a spec about SARS 7 years ago  because you thought the joke was so funny and the people reading your packet would be really impressed. Do the work, scour the internet for interesting news stories and come up with a unique take on it.

So now you know what it takes to get a job writing for a TV show, so get out there and start writing.