Happy May Day (Malone). Celebrate with Friday Questions.
Michael starts us off:
How much leverage do writers have in negotiating higher salaries on successful shows?
Never as much as we’d like. Hollywood always feels any writer could be replaced. And even if the quality of a show goes down, audiences tune in to see the actors.
Aaron Sorkin was replaced on WEST WING and it went another couple of seasons. Larry David left SEINFELD and it trundled on. MASH survived Larry Gelbart’s departure (and even though I was one of the writers who replaced him I can honestly say this was a case where the quality did indeed suffer).
That said, valued writers still can make very rich deals. And if it’s their show and they have ownership stakes they can really make a bundle.
And A-list writers can leverage their success to get network commitments for future shows, which can be more valuable than money if the circumstances are right.
How would you have handled broadcasting a game where there were no fans in the building like the Orioles & White Sox faced on Wednesday?
The same way I handled half the road games I did calling the Mariners in 1992 when we lost 99 games. Just be as informative and entertaining as I could. And not yelling over a home run because it always annoyed the outfielders when they could hear it.
So after a lot of work I have finally completed both a an original pilot and a spec of an existing show. Is that enough to submit to agents or should I have more? I'm also concerned of my spec going stale since in my Veep Selina is still the Vice President. Any advice?
And it wouldn’t hurt to have specs from two existing shows – maybe a single camera and a multi-cam.
I wouldn’t worry about your VEEP for about a year. Producers understand that you have no way of knowing what story sea-changes a series may make. But after about a year when producers start getting VEEP scripts where Selina has been established as the president then your script may seem dated. But for the moment you should be okay.
Has the ability to "binge watch" shows exposed some plotting/ scripting weaknesses that were not conspicuous when people had to wait a week between shows and perhaps years to see on rerun?
An example of what I mean is that recently I binged on "New Tricks" ( very good British cop show) While watching I started to notice how much family dysfunction played out in many of the episodes/ cases they worked on. I don't know if I would have noticed this watching one show a week.
It certainly is easier to pick out patterns when you binge watch a show. For aspiring writers planning to write a spec that’s a good thing. But for the casual viewer, it gives them a chance to see the seams.
I’ve never written on a series that I knew could be binge watched. Would I alter my storytelling if I did know? Somewhat... perhaps. I’d do less exposition. I wouldn’t feel the need to remind the audience of certain things because weeks are not passing between episodes; hours are.
And still it would depend on the platform. If my show was on NETFLIX then I would assume there is a lot of binge watching. But if my show was on a network I would have to assume that most of my audience is still not binge watching.
This is a question I have for you guys: I personally find it easier to binge watch dramas. Comedies have a rhythm and a pace and for me it’s harder to watch four straight half hours than two hours of drama. Is that just me? And a second question: when you binge watch, how many hours at a time? If I watch thirteen episodes of a series in a one week period, to me that’s binge watching. There are others who watch thirteen episodes in one or maybe two days.
Again, this is personal, but when there’s a sitcom I really love I don’t like to watch too many episodes at one time because I want to savor them.
And finally, from Glenn E:
Knowing your appreciation for “The Good Wife”, do you find the urge as a writer to try your hand on a script for the show? If the Kings came calling one day with an offer to do so, would you want to create lines for characters like Eli Gold and Howard Lyman?
What’s your Friday Question: