Friday? Oh. Time for some Friday Questions I guess. Warning: I’m still jet lagged. But I'm reasonably sure I can keep my answers straight.
Sam King has a series of questions.
1. To be a staff writer on a network or cable does the writer have to be a WGA member?
Yes, producers will only buy scripts from WGA members. If you’re not in the Guild and they buy your unsolicited script you will have to join the WGA.
2. Will producers only buy scripts from WGA members?
Yes, It is possible for a non-SAG actor to get cast in a TV show or movie. Hold on a second. I just dozed off. Okay. If you are in only one show you don’t have to join the union (Taft-Hartley law), but if you are in two you not only have to join SAG, you have to join that day. And not by check. They’re wise to starving actors.
3. Is it possible for a non-SAG actor to get cast in a TV show or movie?
It depends on the show whether casting is limited to SAG members. Occasionally there will be open casting calls, but more often good casting directors will scour the local theater scene and try to discover unknown talent.
4. Are auditions for actors generally limited to SAG members? Are there any open auditions?
Yes, to be a staff writer on a network or cable show the writer does have to be a WGA………… Sorry. I better take a nap before answering any more of these.
Can you still relate to writers who are struggling to pay bills and have to pinch pennies? I imagine after Cheers or Mary Tyler Moore, you were pretty set, no matter what you did. How did you stay hungry after that point?
Okay, I’m still a little hazy but is this for real? I’m not Warren Buffet, even with my MANNEQUIN 2 royalties. I stay hungry by being the same person I was when I started out. I like to think I still relate to struggling writers because no matter how much any of us makes, we’re all just struggling writers.
The advice to people who are to write a tv spec script seems to always be "pick a new show that you think will really take off, but pick it before it actually does". I'm curious, are there people who do the exact opposite and pick shows that are long gone (but successful), like M*A*S*H? What impression would that make on a producer?
There are always stories about folks submitting specs from vintage sitcoms like MASH and THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. I would not advise it. It’s very gimmicky for one thing. And for another, comedy styles have changed. I’m not sure a well-written MASH spec is going to tell the WHITNEY producers whether you can write their show.
Back to bed. Hope some of that made sense. More Friday Questions next week when I’ve regained consciousness.