Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What I am Reading

I decided to add a "What I am Reading" tab on my blog because I have not been reading as much as I should be. Right now I am reading "Hello, lied the agent." The book is a journal about being a Television sitcom writer in Hollywood. It's hystarical.

The author, Ian Gurvitz, has worked on shows such as Becker and Wings. He also wrote episodes of Frasier, The Wonder years, and Get A Life.

From amazon:
There are many books about the entertainment business but I'm not aware of any besides 'Hello, Lied The Agent' which manage to capture the often agonizing, occasionally ecstatic day to day life of a TV writer in the process of developing a new series...

Gurvitz's book features quotable lines on just about every page ("It's been said that in Hollywood, friends don't want friends to fail; friends want friends to die") and a comprehensive overview of the television landscape valuable to anyone who's ever wanted to know how shows - brilliant or execrable - proceed from concept to airing

He has been in the business for a while and knows what he is talking about. Most shows go through so many rewrites before the pilot is even produced that most of the time, the original script is nothing like the finished product. One of my favorite quotes from the book about that is:

"A while ago I saw a comic at the Laugh Factory on Sunset. He was the original writer of Malibu's Most Wanted", that Jamie Kennedy movie about a spoiled rich white kid who acts 'black'. The comic joked about it, saying, 'People asked me if my script changed a lot, all I know is when I wrote the first draft it was about the Holocaust."

I was on the D-Train when I first read that line and laughed my ASS off and had everyone looking at me as I stood on a crowded express train at 9:15am.

Anyway, the more and more I read this book, the more I want to work in Television Development on the entertainment side.

One final point in the post, Ian brings up how you submit a script, get notes back from a bunch of people... re-write the script and then re-write again. I look at my stuff that I have written and started to re-write it again. The problem with the networks, Ian says, is that the development executives aren't from the "creative" side of television. Most of them have business degrees or have never really worked in television at all (this is not my opinion but his, paraphrasing)

I hope to one day be able to talk about how I went from being an "assistant" to a VP of Development somewhere... I am on my way though!


  1. As someone who writes about the entertainment side of the TV business, I can say that there are many different variety of suits. Some of them are more creative than the creative folks, and some of them are idiots as that book suggests. The same thing goes for the creative types -- some are smart and savvy, others are basket cases who think nothing of overspending a studio's money. It's all a crap shoot.

  2. Hey JP. Have you eve read the "The Last Mogul"? It's a bio of Lew Wasserman who ran MCA, and by default much of Hollywood (film & TV). Fascinating read...