Here are some Friday Questions for your weekend pleasure:
Chris leads off:
Do you get more royalties if you used to be the showrunner of a series or do you get them just for episodes you've written and characters you've created?
You just get them for episodes you’ve written. Showrunners frequently rewrite every draft and most don’t take the script to arbitration to try to get their name attached. They believe that rewriting is just part of the job and why they’re getting a big salary to begin with.
However, some showrunners do like to stick their names on every script. And there are writers in town who won’t work with them because of it.
In all the years my partner and I have been showrunners or head writers we only took one script to arbitration to get our names included. And we won the arbitration. The writer, a freelancer, came back with an outline that was wildly different from the story we sent him out with. As in "What the fuck did you do that for?" We respectfully told him to go back to the original story we had given him and write a first draft from that. Weeks and weeks went by. No draft. Finally, we called his agent and said if it’s not on our desk on Monday morning we were pulling the assignment. The script arrived that Monday and again, he had strayed way off the mark. I have no idea why he felt the need to do that. We told the agent we were very disappointed in both his attitude and the work. Two days later the writer delivered yet a second draft. And again, it was nowhere near the story we approved. At that point we just threw out all of his drafts, David and I wrote the entire script… from the outline we had given him, and decided to take it to arbitration because it pissed us off that he’d be getting full royalties from a script he had nothing at all to do with.
Meanwhile, we rewrote hundreds of others scripts and always gave the original writer full credit. Some of my best jokes are credited to other writers.
John T asks:
I would like to get a copy of a script for a spec I am writing. Who exactly should I contact to accomplish this?
If you’re in LA, there are bookstores in Hollywood that often sell TV scripts. You can also go to the Writers Guild Library or the libraries at UCLA and USC. You won’t be able to take them home but you can see and read them.
Don’t live in LA? You may find scripts online for the show you want to spec. Or you may contact the show and ask for a script. Sometimes they’ll accommodate you. Check eBay. You might get lucky.
But however you do it; it’s worth the time and effort to do it right and submit your spec in their template.
Jim S has a question regarding my post about celebrities going to Lakers games to be seen.
Are there celebrities who just attend events because they like the sport. It is my understanding that the Canadian colony in Hollywood show up to Kings games. Tom Selleck seems to genuinely enjoy baseball.
Remember when Jane Fonda was married to Ted Turner who owned the Atlanta Braves? Jane would only show up during playoff games and several times the camera caught her in stands sleeping. Well, that’s a seat some real Braves fan couldn’t get. Same with Fox sitcom stars they trot out to be seen at World Series games to promote their shows. Give the real team rooters a chance!
And among those rooters are Jack Nicolson who is at every Lakers game. And I used to see Larry King, Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks, Jane Seymour and other celebrities all the time at Dodger games – even when they played the Pirates in July and it was 100 degrees. More power to those stars.
Interestingly, when Sandy Koufax goes to a Dodger game (which is rare because he lives in Florida) he never sits in the press box or a luxury suite. He always prefers to just sit in the stands with the fans. And when he wants a hot dog and a beer he stands in the concession lines just like everybody else. As if I didn’t love him before.
I am living in the UK. Is it worth me submitting a spec script, or will I be rejected due to geography?
It’s worth submitting a spec script if you assure the producer that you’re willing to fly to Los Angeles at a moment’s notice if he wants to see you.
And finally, from Todd:
Just this morning I watched an episode of Frasier you directed called, "Roz and the Shnoz." It's heavy on farce, (people with giant noses), but it's fantastic. Any memories of directing that episode?
I did a post on this very topic. You can find it here.
As always, thanks for your questions. Leave yours in the comments section.