Monday, November 01, 2010
The latest trend in TV development: buying blogs and Twitter feeds
At this moment there must be 10,000 hopefuls hastily creating blogs and Twitter feeds. Each looking for a hook. “My mom after three drinks. com”, “@theSexNun”, “Locked In My Room For Five Years”, “@HeathLedgerSpeaksThroughMe”.
They’re thinking, “This is great. I can break into sitcoms and I don’t have to go to Yale!”
What was once a forum for self expression has now become the next California Gold Rush. It reminds me of when my partner David and I sold our first script. We had been diligently writing specs for two years, taking classes, studying sitcoms. Once we landed a sale at least ten of our friends immediately began banging out spec scripts. The implication was obvious. “If these two idiots can make it, anybody can!” Of course, once they launched into their scripts and discovered it was a lot harder than they thought, all but one junked the idea. (and he also broke through and had a nice career.)
I suspect this will be the case with most of these new bloggers who have dollar signs in their eyes. After a few weeks of cranking out tweets and posts for a readership of four the SexNun will throw in the towel.
I know a number of established comedy writers who are very opposed to this trend. It’s hard enough to pitch and sell an idea. And this year there will be fewer open slots because “I’mBoyCrazy.com” and “Dear Girls Above Me” will have claimed them.
Aside from the golddiggers who will be cluttering up the blogosphere, I applaud the trend, and here’s why: What these blogs and Twitter feeds that have sold have in common is that they all have strong voices and personal visions. This to me is what television comedy needs. All too often sitcoms get so watered down by committee and research. And that has led to the generic, bland, familiar sitcom that has threatened to kill the genre.
To those bloggers who have landed a sale – first off, congratulations. But your big challenge now is to hold onto that voice. And it will be a big challenge. A similar trend occurred almost thirty years ago when (sparked by the success of COSBY) networks clamored to sign stand-ups to star in sitcoms based on their acts. But they were performers with proven material at a time when there was far less interference from networks and studios.
Most bloggers aren’t experienced television writers. In all likelihood you’ll be paired with established showrunners (so those writers who don’t sell a pitch may still hook on with a project). The blogger might have to really fight to maintain his voice and vision. I encourage you to protect that at all costs.
And for the rest of you bloggers, don’t be discouraged if your site is not discovered and becomes the show that replaces TWO AND A HALF MEN because Charlie Sheen is in Bellvue. There is the satisfaction of knowing your readers appreciate you. And isn’t that alone worth the effort?
Okay, well, there are also GoogleAds.