Here’s a Saturday question. It’s like a Friday question except the question itself is longer than the answer. As always, when I can't find an appropriate picture I feature Natalie Wood.
writing to you because I've started to take some showrunner
meetings/interviews for TV comedies and I find them perplexing. In the
past, when you've given a young writer or writing team their first gig,
what did you feel constituted a successful meeting? Do the ideas they
have about the show matter? Is there any way to compensate for being
guess I'm wondering what's expected of me in these meetings. They've
read my scripts...liked them. I've met with the studio...the network.
That's all fine, but I don't feel comfortable yet with the executive
producers. Maybe there's an intimidation factor.
much tougher for showrunners these days because generally they’re
interviewing the newbie writer for a staff position. Back in the old
days when dinosaurs ruled the earth (the 1980s and 90s) you could give a
baby writer a freelance assignment and use that to determine whether
they’re worthy of joining your staff. Now, the decision is based on a
decent spec SCRUBS and interview.
Try not to be intimidated. Showrunners are just like regular people but luckier and more neurotic.
The first thing I look for is this: is this writer fucking strange? Does he creep me out? Does he have an Olsen Twins obsession? Does she dress like Lady Gaga?
is important. Remember, you’re going to spend a million hours locked
in a room with this person. Has their hair been washed since New
And then I just try to get a feel for who they are.
Obviously, they’re a little nervous. Anything I can do to put them at
ease helps us both. They’re less likely to have a stroke and I get a
better idea of their real personality.
Just be yourself. Don’t
try to dazzle by coming on like Mel Brooks on Red Bull. Be prepared.
Know as much as you can about the show and the showrunner. Is he a
huge Lakers fan? Maybe you talk a little hoops. If you were meeting
with me you might slip into the conversation that you love Natalie Wood.
Be enthusiastic but not Richard Simmons. The showrunner will probably ask if you
have any questions. Don’t ask about money. Don’t ask how late they
usually work. Don’t ask what snacks they have. Ask thoughtful
questions about the show, where it’s going, what their process is. And
like I said, be yourself as best you can.
It’s an inexact science. You don’t know what to answer and they don’t know what to ask. Best of luck.
Oh… and show up on time.