Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day then staff work begins

Happy Memorial Day. This is the time of the year when writing staffs go back to work. If you’re an aspiring TV scribe, I hope someday that’ll be you. Here’s what you can sort of expect…at least on the comedy side.

The first week will just be sharing vacation stories, home remodeling nightmares, and trashing reality shows. You’ll go out for long lunches, bitch about how much other writers make, compare Prius prices, convince non-Mac using colleagues to finally wise up and get a Mac, and discuss the upcoming summer movie slate. My blog might come up. Half will like it, half will think it’s a piece of shit.

You’ll mosey back to the office, maybe talk in very general terms about the season ahead, some scattershot thoughts on characters and stories, then go home at 4.

Week two you’ll come in and the show runner will panic. He’ll realize you’re now hopelessly behind. From there you get to work, really delving into the characters, spitballing story areas, eventually breaking stories. You still go home at 4 but at least you’re getting something done.

Over the next few weeks the stories will be outlined, assigned, written, turned in, and rewritten by the staff. You start having lunch brought in, going home at 6…and then 7… and then 9. By the time you go into production in August you might have four scripts ready to go with a few others in the pipeline. And hopefully you’ll have seen every summer movie you wanted to see, made your vacation plans for next year, bought that Mac, remodeled that kitchen, fulfilled every dinner obligation, read all those books on your nightstand, caught up on my archives, and took pictures of sunsets so you’ll remember what they look like…because now the real fun begins.

The actors come in rested and the first day of production you’re ready to kill them. And so it begins.

Your first real break comes when you can say "Happy Thanksgiving".

Next up: My Hawaii travelogue. Aloha

9 comments:

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Another goddamn travelogue! Goddamn, I'm looking forward to it! :)

VP81955 said...

This is off-topic, to be sure, but WABC Rewound is on through 6 p.m. ET and can be accessed through http://www.wabcradio.com. At 1 p.m., it's a 1974 aircheck of George Michael, pre-"Sports Machine" (he was splendid), and from 2 to 5, three hours of Dan Ingram, who many people consider to be the quintessential Top 40 jock (nothing against Robert W. Morgan or Dick Biondi), from 1973 and '75. It concludes with some Bruce Morrow and Chuck Leonard. Great listening!

RAC said...

Ken,
You make it all sound so utterly… glamorous.

I'll bet by the end of the second week you're accidentally dialing the Hot Wings Cafe on Melrose instead of your home. Or are holed up at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in a fetal position after a long night of rewrites.

The pain sounds delicious - I think a lot of us would gladly endure the writers room just for the reward of watching an actor mispronounce a punchline. Seriously, how can we get in?

But here's the thing: I'll also bet you're so into the concepts and characters and camaraderie the long days and lost evenings just whip by until you're suddenly in Hawaii again next Spring.

I'd do it. Hey, you guys don't haze the baby writers, do you?

John said...

Won't you have to update the mac thing now to have Intel chip-based mac owners telling their Motorola chip-based mac colleagues to wise up and get a new G5 that can run all the new (and high-priced) Intel-based software coming out this year for the new mac operating system. Having a G4 laptop with 17-inch screen and Motorola chips is so 2005 (Jobs & Co should have bitten the bullet five years ago and switched over to the Intel chips when they made the big switch from OS 9 to OS 10, which is a much better laid out OS than anything Mr. Gates and his boys have come up with yet).

But Windows does handle streaming audio a little easier than macs, since most stations like WABC use the Windows Media Player format. Here's the direct feed for WABC Rewound, if you either can't stand stations that stream using pop-up browser windows (or if you just don't want to see Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity's images on the WABC main page):

http://mmslb.eonstreams.com/abc_ny_newyork_wabc_am_fast

Anonymous said...

OK, blogger doesn't like long names for streaming audio stations, since it left off the last few letters of the web address. Let's see if a direct link to the WABC audio stream works better.

Jack Ruttan said...

I wish we wuz a staff. It's kind of just me, and frantic phone calls and e-mails. With the sort of deadlines they're doing here, the director thinks that someone upstairs is paying for their house with the writing/editing budget they've saved.

Anonymous said...

My brother told me about your blog...

Congratulations on #600 (obviously I just get around to reading your blog every couple of days).

Thanks for your help with my CHEERS gag in Minneapolis!!

Note to MAVIN:
Evidence of Small World Theory. Laurie and I were in elementary shool together (Collin St.) She was my first "girl friend". Please say hello for me. Thanks

Corey Levine

Laurie said...

Hi Ken, this is Laurie, Bonnie's sister and Corey's "first girlfriend". Say Hi to Corey for me!

Ken Levine said...

ATTENTION!!!

I HAVE MOVED!!!!!

At least for the moment and if blogger doesn't resolve this soon I will move permenantly.

My temporary new address is:

http://kenlevine.typepad.com/blog/

Please check in. I'm posting there.

Thanks. Sorry for the inconvenience. I am really pissed.

Ken