Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sitcom Room update!!

Thanks to everyone for the huge response to my two-day writing seminar, THE SITCOM ROOM.

Technically, we've already sold out. And then some. My plan was to have
three tables of five writers each. I wanted to keep it small enough that
I could give all the writers plenty of time & attention. Before I knew
it, 17 or 18 people had signed up. I decided I could add one more "team"
-- thereby increasing the maximum number of attendees to 20.

So we've still got a couple of spots open. But after we hit 20, that's

And again I assure you, EVERYONE will get my maximum attention. Whether you want it or not.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear the response. But, as one of the initial 15, how many additional slots are you adding?

By Ken Levine said...

I revised the post and clarified that. Everyone will get the maximum attention. Promise.

Anonymous said...

Guess the extra five grand makes "maximum attention" a bit more 'relative" than it was initially.

Possibly you could fit the last five in by amortizing the costs across the board and reducing the fees for twenty? You're only adding 25% more to the costs of additional Chinese food - not rent - not actors. ( I know many actors - they will work for free - not that they should).

Or you could compete with Robert Mc Kee. For only about half the Levine fee you get THREE DAYS of Mc Kee with absolutley no personal attention.

Come on, Ken - smacks of more commercialism than alturism. ie: Giving back a bit of what you've been blessed with - and you have been blessed. Hell, I'd give $995 to learn a tiny bit of what you know. Just have to skip a house payment.

By Ken Levine said...

No David,

The decision to add five more was an attempt to accommodate the overflow demand. And remember, as teams you will be working together as groups for much of the exercise.

But if you feel I am over-charging, or you are being slighted, then you are welcome to cancel or just not sign up.

I will do my utmost to make this a fun, valuable, learning experience and anyone who wants to come along, fine. And if you don't, also fine.

Meanwhile, I will continue to post hopefully entertaining informative articles on this blog... for free.

Anonymous said...

The Sitcom Room is a great idea. Those who are fortunate enough to go should be truly thankful that you offered to do it. The comments sound bitter. I hope you can keep your chin up and know that some of us appreciate all the thought and effort you have put into the Sitcom Room and your blog. I have little patients for the national trend of entitlement. I hope you don't get discouraged.
Best wishes,

Fox Cutter said...

I'm glad the turn out has been so strong, and just sorry I'm not going to be able to make it. My finances have gone all crunch shaped and I really can't afford it at this time. Hopefully you have another one next year and I'll be able to make that.

Eithor way, best of luck to you, it sounds like it will be a lot of fun. :)

Cap'n Bob said...

Nurse: "Doctor, there's a midget outside with a broken leg."

Doctor: "I have little patients."

Thanks for the smile, Nancy.

Anonymous said...

Levine just gave himself a 33% raise and gave the attendees a 33% dilution of his time. You're right, Nancy, that sounds like a great deal.

If I remember correctly, the initial idea was to simulate a writers' room. There's no such thing as a 20 member writers' room.

A word of advice:
If you really want to write for sitcoms, badger your way into a production office and offer to do anything that needs to be done. For free. For a week. Then pay yourself the grand you didn't give Ken and Dan.

I'm sure their hearts are in the right place.

Unfortunately, that seems to be right next to their wallets.

Welcome to Hollywood, Baby!

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's only an 8% dilution of his time. (1/3 - 1/4 = 1/12, assuming 3 groups versus 4 groups) Frankly, I wish I could go--but after I move in June, I'm going to be unemployed, and need to save every dime.

But I do appreciate the blog, sir. Between you and Jane Espensen, I feel I've learned quite a bit in just the past few months.

Anonymous said...

"Ken gave himself a 33% raise"?

You've got to be kidding. You don't think there are additional expenses involved? You think he just brings in five extra chairs and pockets the difference?

What is the room set-up like? How many rooms does he have to provide for this event?

He's bringing in actors to perform the work of the attendees. (How cool is that?) In addition to the actors' compensation, either he has to provide a stage area in the writer's room - which probably means renting a ballroom - or he has to rent a separate room for the performances.

After reading Frank's post, I went back to the website to reread the actual offer. Just as I had remembered, it said the attendees would be broken up into writing teams of five.

So if I understand correctly, if he end ups with 20 people then he'll have four tables of five writers each. Or maybe he'll have three tables with six or seven writers each - and there certainly are plenty of shows with six or seven writers.

As someone else pointed out, there are lots of expenses involved in producing any kind of event at a big hotel. Try $60 per gallon for coffee, with the hotel industry's lovely tradition of tacking on 25% for tax & gratuity. Try astronomical room rentals and sky-high fees for everything from audio-visual equipment to clean water glasses. (The last meeting I was involved with had to pay a $2,500 set-up fee - to have some tables and chairs set up.)

Oh, and does Ken just show up for this thing and wing it? Or is it possible that he has to invest a lot of time and effort in preparing for it?

People pay lots more for other "fantasy camp" type experiences. If Ken was motivated by money, it would have been a lot easier to charge $2,000 per person. He'd certainly have gotten at least 10 people for a lot less expenses on his part.

From what I understand of what "creative consultants" are paid, Ken could make a helluva lot more money by spending a few days with some fledgling sitcom. And he wouldn't have his motives and priorities attacked.

If what he's offering isn't worth the price to you, don't go. But why criticize someone for charging what he thinks is a fair price for what he's offering?

Unknown said...

I am happy to hear this sold well! The timing of it didn't work out for me, and I felt like I was personally disappointing Ken by not signing up.

I'm sure everyone is going to have a great time, and the only appreciable difference is that Ken will now get 25% more exercise going from table to table.

R.A. Porter said...

Wow. Frank's really bitter.

Me? I'm just happy I was one of those first 17 or 18 so I could actually make it this year.

Anonymous said...

david o'hara sounds like either a studio or network exec... in other words, a moron who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. In any event, it is a mortal lock that david o'hara will create NOTHING but will sit on the sidelines and critique others.

ChrisO said...

Not to sound like a kissasw, but... who cres how much a hotel room costs, or a gallon of coffee? Ken has spent years developing his craft and his reputation. He's entitled to charge what he thinks is fair, and others are entitled to decide if it seems worth it.

I don't recall reading anyhwree that Ken intended this as a charity event. My understanding wa thathe wanted to design a unique experience that would provide as much value to participants as possible. It seems like he's done that.

Don't stand up too fast, Ken. You might break my nose.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"david o'hara sounds like either a studio or network exec... in other words, a moron who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. In any event, it is a mortal lock that david o'hara will create NOTHING but will sit on the sidelines and critique others. "

One of us might just be a moron - hell, we'll even let you decide.

I can read. You seem to have some problems with reading comprehension.

Read my post again (put your fingers on your lips so the movement doesn't rattle your focus).

Could the third paragraph possibly be a shot at Mc Kee and not at Ken?

"Hell, I'd give $995 to learn a tiny bit of what you know. Just have to skip a house payment."

Gosh, how many ways could that be taken? Of course we will all have to deffer to your interpetation because you KNOW I can't create anything...other than three Olympic athletes, a World Record holder, an American Record holder, all before I was 30. I've optioned three feature screenplays, wrote and directed a short, have an award winning actress attached to another, have six companies waiting to see a re-write of another (yeah, they had passed but want to see what I can do with a new ending) and I do landscape design and construction. Go to and see how uncreative I am.

Then take some remedial reading.

Oh, there are many things I can't/won't do - one of them is to post anonymously.

Ken addressed my post intelligently. Get someone to read it to you.

Anonymous said...

Uncle Mike,

it may be an 8% dilution of Ken's time, but it's a 33% decrease in each of the first fifteen's piece of the pie. If you had 1/15th and now have 1/20th?

Ken set the value at a grand per fifteenth, then, in effect, changed the value (to Ken) to a grand per twentieth after contracting with the first fifteen.

Offering the first fifteen an out if they don't like the new deal, is not the same as honoring the original cut-off point.

I know Ken can follow this because he left himself an out if not enough people signed on to make it worthwhile to him. Quid pro quo.

Before all the brown-nosers jump on me (BFD), I wanted to join up, but really could not afford it. I think it would worth a grand if it improved my comedy writing skills, but I just didn't have the bucks.

Anonymous may not be able to follow this, but it's why I poked Ken in the ribs.

Hey, the preceived value of each of the buyers may be that or higher. They really won't know until well into the first day. Get a job on staff of a network show and the grand will be a drop in the bucket or have a thousand bucks of fun and it's win win.

Anonymous said...

I think I read you pretty clearly, Dave... and now that I read your second post, I'm sure of it. As for all the amazing projects you have in the play there, well, I have been served wonderful dinners by excellent waiters with pretty much the same general credits.

Anonymous said...

Of course you "read me clearly" - your poor reading comprehension explains your misconceptions.

As to your excellent waiters, they couldn't have those same general credits without some creativity, now could they?

But I think maybe you have been a bit 'creative' with your waiters coaching credits. Odds are very slim your waiters coached any Olympic athletes.

Kinda galls you that I actually have some credits, meager that they are. Even more interesting is why that pains you when we have never even met. (I'm guessing on this. I can't be as certain in my assumptions as you seem to be when I don't know who you are. I can only surmise as to how pathetic your existence is)

But, so this is not a complete loss to you, I'll give you some things you can knock me on that are real: I can't play any musical instruments, my spelling sucks, I'm only 5'9", white, 20 lbs overweight, was a weak actor, never broke 4:30 in the mile run, most of my screenplays were never optioned,
and I can't afford Ken's sitcom room.

Use some of the above and you got me. Use your own 'creativity' and...well, the other readers can be the judge.

Anonymous said...

I just wish I could coax you out of your shell and get you to talk about yourself a bit.

Anonymous said...

Be careful what you wish for- you may just get it.

Anonymous said...


if you are the anonymous who made the first post - you also had concerns about Ken increasing the sit com room class size (ie: altering the contract.)

If you are also the anonymous that delivered the edict on my lack of creativity (and went into rapid retreat and increasing vapidity with your replies), take your meds.

Just a thought - how will you maintain anonymity in the class? You won't be able to cop to your posts (not advisable anyway).

Hey, what if we sat at the same table? Now that is an interesting sit com premise!

Hey, Ken! Cool idea or what? You should wave your fee for an idea like this.

"Frasier is 'locked' up for two days in a comedy workshop/seminar having to rely on a person he doesn't know but had lambasted over the air. Of course that person would discreetly exact revenge making the weekend a miserable disaster for Frasier."

Pamela Atherton said...

For goodness gracious!

I've known Ken for a very long time and I can tell you without a doubt that adding the additional spaces to the seminar comes only from a generous place in his heart... to give more people the chance to participate.

I know, having heard him speak at seminars in the past, that every one of the participants in the event will get information and opportunities that they would not get any other way.

Are you kidding??? Two days with an emmy-winning writer/director/producer who is a well-respected and continuing to work in the business?? $995 is more than fair. I work in the voiceover business and that's not an unusual price to pay for a "showcase" with agents.

Can I afford it? It was a push... but it's an investment. And I don't regret it for an instance. It all comes down to what your priorities are.

But don't, even for a nano-second, think this is about Ken making a couple of extra bucks off a few more people. Consider it, instead, to be a richer experience for ALL the participants.

Anonymous said...

Pam is exactly right about both Ken's motives and his wonderful offer.

As for dave o'hara, I just don't have the energy or desire to take you apart any further, dave... and since you show no signs of tiring talking about himself, this will be the last word from me on you. However I know it will not be the last word from him. Oh well, thank god for the internet so that the dave o'hara's of the world can call attention to themselves.

And for what it is worth, I am a somewhat successful sitcom writer/producer and what Ken is offering is a most amazing deal... If I wasn't working right now myself, I'd have taken the course just to be a part of a table that was being run by Ken Levine.

Anonymous said...

Just want to thank anonymous for not taking me apart anymore. I was devastated. It's quite an announcement for one who scored 0 rational points.

I had no idea I was tangling with the Knight in the Holy Grail who lost both arms and legs and still thought he won the battle.

You have such a short memory: It all started with your pronouncement that someone you knew little or nothing of was a lock to never create anything. (who's the moron?)

Then when I produce a few things I have created, they are only good enough for waiters. Waiters can't be creative? Is that because their jobs are so easy Cave Men Could Do It? Does that make cave men also uncreative? (we'll leave out fire and the wheel...oh, and tools).

Hey, does your credit on your sit-com read ANONYMOUS? (Or just if it tanks?)

I'm sure we'll dance again. (With me stepping on your toes and you stepping on your toes it will always be a bit ugly). Anybody who goes as off half-cocked as you, will probably jump right in again.

Oh, you may not have noticed Pam Atherton did not post any conclusions about me (good or bad). She wrote an intelligent post about something she knew about...and signed her name.


I can't argue with that. Maybe you can.

Anonymous said...

I stand by my 33% analysis. Ken was getting he's getting 20K. That 5K increase represents 33% of his initial take. Attendees were getting 1/15 of Ken's they're getting 1/20. They'll be competing with 5 additional bodies for his time. And those 5 new folks equal what percentage of the initial 15? That's right. 33%

Now, granted, I'm no math wiz. I'll be the first to admit it. But I think my analysis is right. If I'm looking at it askew, please feel free to set me straight.

The point, however, remains the same. $1,000 is a hefty price tag. Even if it were still just the initial 15. Too hefty? Only time and the folks who buy a ticket will know the answer to that one.

I suggest we play a little comparison game for fun and enlightenment.

The WGA is holding an all day seminar on May 19th. They're calling it BREAKING INTO THE BOX or EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT KICK-STARTING A CAREER IN TV WRITING. They'll be providing the following panels: HOW DID THIS GET ON THE AIR?, THE ANATOMY OF A SHOW - HOW DOES IT WORK?, GETTING YOUR BREAK, and THE WRITERS ROOM. They promise to have a bevy of agents, managers, network and studio executives, show runners, executive producers and writers. Plus, they're offering a light breakfast, break snacks, lunch and a wine-and-cheese reception.

So, without peeking at the WGA website, what do you think the price should be for such a thing? Yes, I know it's not exactly what Ken is offering, but it does cover some of the same territory. And since Ken's event is a two day Levineapalooza, feel free to double the amount of your guess.

Jump in, folks. I think you'll be surprised. And, who knows, maybe we'll end up chatting about it at the WGA event, which is where I'll be spending my money.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness Frank set us straight by pointing out that a day of WGA panel sessions -- with LUNCH and WINE-AND-CHEESE no less! -- is far cheaper than Ken's Sitcom Room.

It stimulated me to do some research on my own. Guess what? will sell me a used book on TV comedy writing for $4.97! Even with shipping charges, that's a LOT less than that greedy Ken is charging.

And if I buy that book, I'll be able to make notes all over it. I'll bet Ken won't let me do that to him even if I pay his outrageous $995.

Boy, what a ripoff.

Anonymous said...

Frank and Another Opinion, you guys realize you are leaving yourselves open to a "No Creativity Attack"?

Anonymous said...

The Mojo Cafe Trailer

Anonymous said...

...oh, I forgot to add...

It seems to me Ken knows he's overpriced. Why else would he go with the used car approach of $995? If he felt he was charging a fair amount, why not list it as it truly is: $1,000

That, to me, is a five dollar clue.

Anonymous said...

My ex-wife, currently costing me a whole lot more than $1000, will give you lessons for free if you only testify against me at our trial next month. She wrote for Three's Company, Newhart, and has the distinction of having her script shelved at Dave's World - ouch! I was told by Marco Penette, "You could make a career in this town just based on how much she hates you!" What I'm trying to say is, IT SEEMS BITTER IS NECESSARY to be a successful comedy writer in this town (but bitterness can be taken to an extreme - next month then judge will hear how she has been beating our little boy since he was three).

Anonymous said...

What would really be helpful is to find out if the WGA has made any deals that have gained writers of old sitcoms some needed residuals, or are they still as useless as ever?