Sunday, April 26, 2015

What does studio coverage look like?

There has been a lot of discussion in the comments section about the value of readers and coverage.  A number of you have asked "What does a coverage report actually look like?"  Tying in with yesterday's post where I reference the screenplay David Isaacs and I wrote in 1981 called STAR SPANGLED ADVENTURE, here is the actual coverage. 

What exactly is studio coverage?    They're synopses of scripts prepared for studio executives and agents by hired readers.  Primarily they're meant to judge the value of a screenplay, both for its commercial potential and quality.   Rival studios also prepare coverage to keep track of the competition and get a heads up on possible new hot writers.    Coverage is Hollywood's Cliff Notes.

Hope you can read it  (you might need a magnifying glass or telescope).   Writers generally never see this.  A friend of a friend of a friend uncovered it.  Gee, I feel like Edward Snowden.  Squint and enjoy.


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Given the glowing reader write-up (not sure how much later you saw it), did you try to pitch this to other studios? Also, any idea how far up the entertainment chain this particular reader moved up? And where do most of them wind up, say 5-10-15 years later? Mid-level studio execs, production companies, TV networks?

Johnny Walker said...

Thanks for sharing this sort of thing, Ken.

If anyone hasn't read it already, Michael Piller's (as yet unpublished, but still available online) account of his writing of STAR TREK IX is about as honest, revealing, and balanced as it gets.

Despite a talented, hard-working writer, with a producer who's on his side, and a team of executives, cast members and a director, all determined to make the best film they can, they ultimately produced a lacklustre film. All the best will and talent in the world sometimes isn't enough...

The book is called FADE IN and I HIGHLY recommend it. A simple Google search for "FADE IN MICHAEL PILLER" will yield fruitful results. I hope one day Piller's widow gets it published, as I would happily buy a copy in a second (especially if it included the full script mentioned in the text).

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

"They are building mostly funny situations from the characters."

That says it all, guys. Great job.

Eric J said...

Amazing. Something written on a typewriter. Remember those?

Dixon Steele said...

Back in the early 90s, I was looking to break into the biz and I was good at writing coverage.

I found myself up for a development job working for producer Marvin Worth (LENNY, MALCOLM X), also at Paramount. To prove we had the "same tastes" he assigned me 5 script to cover. Gratis, natch. That day I briefly met his development head, Albert Berger, now a big shot producer himself.

I didn't get the job.

A few years later, I met up with Berger and told him the story. He laughed and said there was no job. When scripts piled up, they would run an ad for a D-Guy/Girl and this way they'd get 100s of scripts read and covered for free.

Welcome to Hollywood, folks...

thirteen said...

I did this for ABC in New York ca. 1974. I didn't even know it was called "coverage." My officemate and I called it "most boring job in the universe, except for title clearance."

Hamid said...

Sounds a great script. I love the name of the Osmonds parody, The Amerikids.

Sadly, satire isn't a popular form of comedy now for studios. Ironically, the bit about rival black gangs having to square off in a rhyme contest would now be the entire focus of a movie but without any of the the satire. All the supposed hilarity would come just from 90 minutes of characters spouting Ebonics. Get Hard is a perfect example of the lazy writing we get now. Just have a white guy wear hip-hop clothes and talk gangster lingo and that's the full extent of the comedy. The best thing about that movie was Alison Brie in lingerie.

gottacook said...

Ken - With respect to Star Trek (Michael Piller's online book about the script process of the 1998 Star Trek movie is indeed worth a look), can you please suggest how I might contact a certain actor best known for Star Trek and still active as a director? I want to send him his orthodontic records (photos, x-rays, the works) circa 1963-67 that I found last month while cleaning out my late father's house. No joke, my dad was his orthodontist.

Also, I assumed from the script summary that Amerikids was a parody of Up With People. I never saw a performance myself, but years ago came across a program for one (from the early 1970s, I think, featuring "Glennie Close"); also I knew someone in high school who was on his way to joining, and who looked and acted the part every minute.

Carson T said...

gottacook, if the actor in question is still working as a director, contact his agent or manager and let them know you have records of his and want to know what would he like to do with them.

gottacook said...

Finally found the necessary contact info at the DGA site; luckily the person in question is in the online directory available to the public. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wait wait wait, gottacook how does the story end?