Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day and then staff work begins

Happy Memorial Day. This is the time of the year when writing staffs go back to work. If you’re an aspiring TV scribe, I hope someday that’ll be you. Here’s what you can sort of expect…at least on the comedy side.

The first week will just be sharing vacation stories, home remodeling nightmares, and trashing reality shows. You’ll go out for long lunches, bitch about how much other writers make, compare Prius prices, convince non-Mac using colleagues to finally wise up and get a Mac, and discuss the upcoming summer movie slate. My blog might come up. Half will like it, half will think it’s a piece of shit.

You’ll mosey back to the office, maybe talk in very general terms about the season ahead, some scattershot thoughts on characters and stories, then go home at 4.

Week two you’ll come in and the show runner will panic. He’ll realize you’re now hopelessly behind. From there you get to work, really delving into the characters, spitballing story areas, eventually breaking stories. You still go home at 4 but at least you’re getting something done.

Over the next few weeks the stories will be outlined, assigned, written, turned in, and rewritten by the staff. You start having lunch brought in, going home at 6…and then 7… and then 9. By the time you go into production in August you might have four scripts ready to go with a few others in the pipeline. And hopefully you’ll have seen every summer movie you wanted to see, made your vacation plans for next year, bought that new Kindle, remodeled that kitchen, fulfilled every dinner obligation, read all those books on your nightstand, caught up on my archives, and took pictures of sunsets so you’ll remember what they look like…because now the real fun begins.

The actors come in rested and the first day of production you’re ready to kill them. And so it begins.

Your first real break comes when you can say "Happy Thanksgiving".


JoyHog said...

I want that life..

Gang of Bandits said...

Hi Ken,
I know Fridays a way off but if you can store this one away or jump right on it I'd appreciate it! Need your help... Was hit with a question and wasn't sure how to answer it when they asked "sure it sounds funny, but what's the comic depth of the sitcom?" I'd love to answer that but I keep getting different takes on what exactly "comic depth" means. Can you help define it? Many thanks.

ohdearohdearohdear said...

'Wise up and get a Mac'? Shouldn't that be 'Give up'?

emily said...

Memorial Day is to honor our nation's war dead.

"Happy Memorial Day" just doesn't sound right...

Anonymous said...

Been there, you also just might....

-Meet the PA's, they work just a few hours longer than you, about sixteen hours...for about 60 bucks take home pay per day.

-Compare the PA salary to your salary, which is probably somewhere between 3K and 18K a week.

-Compare your salary to the show runner's salary which is probably around 25K to 50K per week.

-Wonder about how many good meals will be provided for you.

-Not even think about the really bad meals that will be provided for you.

-Be introduced to several network execs who will be envious, jealous, respectful, cruel behind your back,

-Meet the writers assistants, usually HOOOTTTTT!

-Be given a small room to call your office. Think about the days in high school because that furniture is better than what you have been given to work with.

-See the show runner's office, which will have a $20,000 antique slot machine, $15,000 vintage jukebox, and $80,000 print of Laurel and Hardy's first film

Anonymous said...

Sorry this is a really random question that has nothing to do with this post. I was looking at a list of Cheers specials and I came across the "Uncle Sam Malone special that aired in the first season for the U.S. Treasury. It isn't online anywhere. I was wondering what happened to it. I thought it was weird that it wasn't on the first season DVD. Did they ever even release it?