Here are some Friday questions for the long holiday weekend. For the first one I got some help from a producer of LOST.
I'm getting ready to write a spec, but I've been having some issues deciding which one to choose.
Initially I wanted to write a 'Breaking Bad' episode, but now I'm a bit confused b/c like a lot of dramatic series these days, the show is serialized, not episodic. I guess my question is, when writing a spec for a show like 'BB' or 'Mad Men', do I pick up the story where it left off, or just try to write one that fits in somehow but isn't directly related to the storyline...does that make sense?
Or should I just go with something more self-contained?
I would do something more self-contained. Otherwise you're really shooting at a moving target. It's hard enough writing of these damn things. I can't imagine writing a spec LOST. A spec 24, maybe. Jack escapes death, Kim is kidnapped, there's a bomb that has to be defused, Jack yells at Chloe, and anyone who helps Jack dies.
I asked Adam Horowitz, one of the LOST executive producers what he thought the best spec to submit was. Here's what he said:
What I find myself telling writers these days is, rather than spec an exisiting show, write a pilot. Or spec a show AND write a pilot. When we read for the show, we always like to see an original voice because as well executed as someone's show spec may be, it really doesn't give an indication of whether they can write our show. The best indication for us has always been a strong original voice shown through an original piece of material be it a pilot or feature or play.
From David Bishop:
Just watched a 4th season episode called Der Tag and spotted Radar clutching a 1960s Marvel comic. Can you recall any other any unintended anachronistic blunders on the show?
Oh, there have been plenty. In the first MASH we wrote – “Out of Sight/Out of Mind” – the tag takes place in the nurses’ tent. Look closely. One of the nurses is reading JAWS.
Why didn't Julia Duffy get the role of Diane?
There were three finalists for Sam and Diane. The couples were paired for the deciding audition. Ted and Shelley happened to be paired. And although Julia was terrific, the combo of Ted and Shelley was just magic.
And finally, Ian Taylor has a query:
I see episodes of MASH where the characters show some talent, like Radar's impressions or Margaret singing. I was wondering if this is something that actors are always pushing for, a chance to show off their auxiliary talents, and do you have any cool stories about actors attempting to shoehorn talents that just don't fit the characters?
Not me personally but I know that on CYBIL, Cybil Shepherd forced the writers to give her scenes in which she could sing. And the irony of course, is that her singing was uh… not very good.
On the other hand, if we learn that one of our cast members has a particular talent we’ll try to find a place to display it. Katey Sagal on THE MARY SHOW used to be a back-up singer for Bette Midler. She’s a fabulous singer. So we devised a reason for her to sing a number one week. For my money it was the best three minutes of the entire series.
Chip Zien on ALMOST PERFECT was in the original Broadway cast of INTO THE WOODS. If you can sing Sondheim you can sing anybody. We found a spot for him to sing as well.
Terry Ferrell was a model before becoming an actor. She did some topless layouts for European magazines. When she was on BECKER I lobbied hard to have her show off that talent. Sorry guys, they didn’t buy it.
What’s your question? Leave it in the comments section. Thanks. And thanks again to Adam Howoritz.