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December 29, 2006



Thanks for telling it like the way it should be, Ken.

Mike Barer

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You wouldn't be the worst pitcher the Texas Rangers have ever had.

LA Guy

You know if Zito can get $126 Million for 7 years I don't see any reason you shouldn't be able to pitch for the Dodgers. Don't give up the dream!Incidentally what does pitching a series idea have to do with being a show runner? My impression is that the show runner is frequently an experienced hired gun, frequently with a studio deal, brought in to oversee series production. Is the custom to give first crack to the person created the show?


Ken, if you can give us innings, the Washington Nationals can give you a spot in the back of the rotation.

Joshua James

Ken, isn't this yet but another symptom of the disease hollywood has - the disease being the belief that the idea, the logline and the pitch is far more important than how well it is written?I always think that whenever I see something like this - http://twoadverbs.blogspot.com/Hollywood is full of idea and pitch-men, so that's why they believe that's the most valuable commodity, rather than the blood and sweat that goes into actual writing . . . what do you think?


This situation reminds me of Ian Gurvitz' words in his book, Hello, Lied the Agent."Execution is everything—how a TV show or movie is written, cast, directed, edited, scored, even marketed. It's not the idea; it's how you do it."Ideas are worthless. Execution is the key, and it all starts with the written word.

Jack Ruttan

Part of the thing I understand about all of this pitching is that it is a way for writers to prove to producers that they're still out there, and alive. At my level of experience, I don't expect to run a show I might "create," but getting the one to two percent of the show's budget would be nice, and it seems to be something producers who work with me expect. They're mainly one-pagers at this point, so not a great drain on time.


what writing courses here in LA might you or anyone else recommend?


...but that would mean admitting I can't write.How dare you, sir! How dare you.


Hnestly, this isn't just a Hollywood problem. We've had the same problem in every industry I've worked in. I worked in sales at a hotel in Chicago a few years back, and when our Director of Sales found out that the hotel's owner was considering renovations, she started holding meeting twice a week to brainstorm sales pitches based on the hypothetical renovations--which, incidentally, never occurred.A lot of people lack common sense, and Hollywood does not have a monopoly on those people.


k.leigh is right - this is just a general problem in all industries. Everyone wants to be rich and famous, but no one wants to put in the hard work to get there. Instead, they think they are just a "pitch" away from having their brilliance recognized and rewarded.


“There’s no job in the world for which I am better qualified.” This doesn't mean she's the most qualified for this job, it just means that she's more qualified for this than for doing anything else.

Malachy Walsh

And then, some of the things they teach in these writing classes... It's like thinking you can become a master of the brush by using a paint-by-numbers kit.


Speaking as a WORKING WRITER and as someone who has done multiple pilots, let me say one thing that rarely is said out loud, but is thought by virtually every experienced writer who goes through the development process ( and explains why I have to post this anonymously): The reality is, the studio and network execs that you pitch to, are ALL morons... most of whom got their jobs one of three ways.#1. They were someone's assistant. That CERTAINLY qualifies them to give comedy notes to writers.#2. They are gay. 90% of the creative execs in this town are gay, and they are choosing what REAL AMERICA watches. If you don't believe me, just look at the shows and look at the casts. I have nothing against gay people, but they do not posess some special creative ability that allows them some sort of insight into what the rest of the country wants to watch OUTSIDE of West Hollywood.#3. They are hired because of "diversity". No one checks qualifications or credentials for network and studio execs... they check "diversity" in their hires. And if you are gay or black or both, then you have a job for life.Okay, sounds bitter, doesn't it? Well, ask ANY WORKING WRITER who is still able to work if anything in this post is untrue or an over-exaageration. Don't ask wannabe writers or the people teaching the classes... ask the REAL thing. I'll bet you'll be surprised at the answer.


Everybody should read Only You, Dick Daring; How to Produce a TV Pilot and Make a Million Dollars by Merle Miller.


I will say this... just watching TV doesn't make you qualified... but most writers in TV only watch Reality Shows and HBO... and then wonder why the shows they've created like Daybreak, Invasion, and The Nine don't succeed.


Hey Anonymous, I'm diverse. I'm willing to use that to get job security as a writer? Who do I call now that Cochran is dead?And Ken, you obviously haven't seen how my mother dresses for a BBQ... downright whorish if you ask me.

D.B. Gilles

Ken, you are dead solid perfect right. Young future TV writers should be concentrating on learning how to write a compelling, outstanding spec--then another and another and another. I've had two pilot deals, written for network shows, worked on staff for two shows and I teach Writing For Television courses in both sitcom and hour-long drama. Other than the half-hour or so I spend each semester talking about how the writers room works, my classes focus on guiding new television writers through the process of finding the right storylines, beating out a solid outline, capturing the essence of characteres, getting a decent first draft and learning to appreciate the value of rewriting.

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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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