Click here for Done Deal Pro home page

Done Deal Pro Home Page

Loading

Go Back   Done Deal Pro Forums > Business > Business Questions and Advice
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-28-2009, 11:22 AM   #1
Charisma
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 518
Default Tv Sitcom Pilot... Creator Vs. Writer?

Hi all. I have a question for you. Here's the backdrop:

I'm meeting with managers and other industry folks on feature stuff. In asking what they are up to, one said he's repping a comedy writer that just got a series on a cable channel. Another has a guy with the same thing and another client w/ bigger stuff. A third handles the biggest sitcoms in prime today. (Me mixing w/ the last guy was a fluke... but maybe they all were )

Anyway, awhile back I had an idea for a sitcom. I worked out the story, the settings, the characters. I created a baby series 'bible':
Opening cuts- one page
Setting Background- two pages
Continuing Characters- one page
Individual bios on Continuing Major Characters (two) - two pages each
Individual Bios on Continuing Support Characters- one page each)
Outlines of ten future episodes- one page each

I then approached a couple (married) w/ a bg in comedy... theatre, improve, and a ton of spec sitcom scripts w/ no sales. Very fast on feet.

The problem: I'm not a comedy writer. (ok no smart remarks)

We brainstormed the pilot. They wrote it, utilizing the bible. Very good work. I suggested a recurring end-of-episode closing theme utilizing a new character that I suggested we imbed in the script. Fine. Done. By them.

I couldn't help myself. I pitched the thing since these mngrs have the tie-ins. They want to read. They're sending me the releases and I'm going to get the writer's sigs...

My question: What position/stake should I have if this ever makes it thru the hoops? (super-duper-long-shot) Whatever it is is fine with me... as I did not write it. It is what it is. I have no desire/illusion to be a sitcom writer. Ever. Any blessings my pals get outta this would put me in heaven.
Where do I stand on credits... participation etc? In or out?

This is how it is on the spec title page.

'......' by THEM and under that 'Concept BY' ME.

Any input would be most welcome. I know very very very little on tv stuff.
__________________
Doth thou desirest a slapping? - William Shakespeare
Charisma is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 11:27 AM   #2
SoCalScribe
Member
 
SoCalScribe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 1,081
Default Re: Tv Sitcom Pilot... Creator Vs. Writer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charisma View Post
Hi all. I have a question for you. Here's the backdrop:

I'm meeting with managers and other industry folks on feature stuff. In asking what they are up to, one said he's repping a comedy writer that just got a series on a cable channel. Another has a guy with the same thing and another client w/ bigger stuff. A third handles the biggest sitcoms in prime today. (Me mixing w/ the last guy was a fluke... but maybe they all were )

Anyway, awhile back I had an idea for a sitcom. I worked out the story, the settings, the characters. I created a baby series 'bible':
Opening cuts- one page
Setting Background- two pages
Continuing Characters- one page
Individual bios on Continuing Major Characters (two) - two pages each
Individual Bios on Continuing Support Characters- one page each)
Outlines of ten future episodes- one page each

I then approached a couple (married) w/ a bg in comedy... theatre, improve, and a ton of spec sitcom scripts w/ no sales. Very fast on feet.

The problem: I'm not a comedy writer. (ok no smart remarks)

We brainstormed the pilot. They wrote it, utilizing the bible. Very good work. I suggested a recurring end-of-episode closing theme utilizing a new character that I suggested we imbed in the script. Fine. Done. By them.

I couldn't help myself. I pitched the thing since these mngrs have the tie-ins. They want to read. They're sending me the releases and I'm going to get the writer's sigs...

My question: What position/stake should I have if this ever makes it thru the hoops? (super-duper-long-shot) Whatever it is is fine with me... as I did not write it. It is what it is. I have no desire/illusion to be a sitcom writer. Ever. Any blessings my pals get outta this would put me in heaven.
Where do I stand on credits... participation etc? In or out?

This is how it is on the spec title page.

'......' by THEM and under that 'Concept BY' ME.

Any input would be most welcome. I know very very very little on tv stuff.

If they actually wrote the script, I would think that you would get story credit, and they would get the writing credits. I'm not exactly sure how the WGA governs "story by" credit as it relates to "creator" credits on a pilot... you should probably check with the credits department to be sure. But if you're not a sitcom writer and have absolutely no interest in becoming a sitcom writer, I'm not sure credit as one of the writers would be appropriate, given the circumstances, or of much use to you.
SoCalScribe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 12:02 PM   #3
jimjimgrande
Member
 
jimjimgrande's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: LA
Posts: 1,246
Default Re: Tv Sitcom Pilot... Creator Vs. Writer?

I think for simplicity's sake you should call yourself an Executive Producer. It's a common title in TV for someone who has developed a show in a non-writing capacity. I don't see that any kind of story credit applies, you may eventually get bumped down to "Developed for television by" or something like that.

Because the writers wrote the pilot, they are the creators of the show, but because they used a bible that you wrote, you're protected. (Though to be honest, I've not heard of a situations where the writer of a bible and the writer of a pilot are different, so maybe that could change). The MBA has a specific minimum set for writing a bible, so as you go forward, you could ask to have the bible purchased as a way of getting yourself paid, in addition to the purchase price of the pilot.

But as other people have pointed out, selling a spec pilot is tough, and even tougher for those who have no track record in TV. On the bright side, there seems to be a feeling this year that with less development money available and fewer writers on overall deals, there's more opportunity for spec scripts than n previous years.
__________________

jimjimgrande is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 12:22 PM   #4
Knaight
Member
 
Knaight's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: MA
Posts: 1,371
Default Re: Tv Sitcom Pilot... Creator Vs. Writer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjimgrande View Post
I think for simplicity's sake you should call yourself an Executive Producer. It's a common title in TV for someone who has developed a show in a non-writing capacity. I don't see that any kind of story credit applies, you may eventually get bumped down to "Developed for television by" or something like that.
Executive Producers in television tend to be the showrunners. Someone who helped develop it but doesn't oversee the production would most likely have some sort of a producer title, but probably not the Executive.

Quote:

Because the writers wrote the pilot, they are the creators of the show, but because they used a bible that you wrote, you're protected. (Though to be honest, I've not heard of a situations where the writer of a bible and the writer of a pilot are different, so maybe that could change). The MBA has a specific minimum set for writing a bible, so as you go forward, you could ask to have the bible purchased as a way of getting yourself paid, in addition to the purchase price of the pilot.

I know that in the case of Charles in Charge, one of the two creators and writers of the series bible is not credited on IMDB. She was paid for it, but since she didn't actually write any of the episodes, it seems they didn't need to give her credit. Oddly enough, she is listed on some other online sources.
Knaight is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 12:35 PM   #5
Charisma
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 518
Default Re: Tv Sitcom Pilot... Creator Vs. Writer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjimgrande View Post
I think for simplicity's sake you should call yourself an Executive Producer. It's a common title in TV for someone who has developed a show in a non-writing capacity. I don't see that any kind of story credit applies, you may eventually get bumped down to "Developed for television by" or something like that.

Because the writers wrote the pilot, they are the creators of the show, but because they used a bible that you wrote, you're protected. (Though to be honest, I've not heard of a situations where the writer of a bible and the writer of a pilot are different, so maybe that could change). The MBA has a specific minimum set for writing a bible, so as you go forward, you could ask to have the bible purchased as a way of getting yourself paid, in addition to the purchase price of the pilot.

But as other people have pointed out, selling a spec pilot is tough, and even tougher for those who have no track record in TV. On the bright side, there seems to be a feeling this year that with less development money available and fewer writers on overall deals, there's more opportunity for spec scripts than n previous years.
Hi jjG.

I was hoping to get your take. Thanks.

Yes... kinda strange circumstance, writing the bible but not the pilot. It would seem to tie me inextricably to the project... to what extent I don't know.

I'm not clear though j. Because I wrote the bible I'm protected. Protected in what manner and to what extent?

So that when the mngrs ask exactly what my role in this is... how do you suggest I would answer that? Exec Prod? And just exactly would I convey that, fairly, I would expect to get outta this thing?

I do realize that TV sitcoms are such a incredibly closed shop and almost impenetrable. That's one of the reasons I never pursued it... but that idea was gnawing at me and so I put it together. Pie-in-the-sky longshot.

I never dreamed I'd be chatting with these cats. I'm now thinking who knows... these guys rep showrunners and in one of my insane dreams they pass it to one of their boys and they take a sniff. The script was just sitting on the shelf cause I didn't want to face the daunting task of getting beat down. But since these guys are willing to read...

There appears to be some really sharp tv peeps on this board. What a resource. Terrific site. Well done DD.

Thanks JJGrand. You are outstanding.
__________________
Doth thou desirest a slapping? - William Shakespeare
Charisma is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 12:45 PM   #6
Charisma
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 518
Default Re: Tv Sitcom Pilot... Creator Vs. Writer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
Executive Producers in television tend to be the showrunners. Someone who helped develop it but doesn't oversee the production would most likely have some sort of a producer title, but probably not the Executive.

I know that in the case of Charles in Charge, one of the two creators and writers of the series bible is not credited on IMDB. She was paid for it, but since she didn't actually write any of the episodes, it seems they didn't need to give her credit. Oddly enough, she is listed on some other online sources.
Hi KghT.

I'm listening intently.

Regarding credit... I'm not looking for anything except what might be due... story by... concept by... I'll not be in that field anyway as It's just not where my interests and abilities lie. The compensation would be the coolest thing. It's been pointed out that the writers wrote the pilot... and as such are the 'creators'.

So how to describe my involvement in this to those I submit to?
I do love the ring of co-EP

In the Charles scenario... did the 'creator' get that status by virtue of writing the pilot or by virtue of writing the bible? The lack of credit seems to suggest they may have been in a situation similar to mine. Didn't write a line. And believe me, as a writer, I wouldn't want/take writing credit for something I had not penned. But I'll gladly take dough for my part... whatever it is ultimately deemed to have been worth.
__________________
Doth thou desirest a slapping? - William Shakespeare
Charisma is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 12:53 PM   #7
Knaight
Member
 
Knaight's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: MA
Posts: 1,371
Default Re: Tv Sitcom Pilot... Creator Vs. Writer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charisma View Post

In the Charles scenario... did the 'creator' get that status by virtue of writing the pilot or by virtue of writing the bible? The lack of credit seems to suggest they may have been in a situation similar to mine. Didn't write a line. And believe me, as a writer, I wouldn't want/take writing credit for something I had not penned. But I'll gladly take dough for my part... whatever it is ultimately deemed to have been worth.
My understanding is that she developed the concept, wrote the Bible, and helped sell it. I don't believe she wrote any part of any episode.
Knaight is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 12:59 PM   #8
Charisma
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 518
Default Re: Tv Sitcom Pilot... Creator Vs. Writer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
My understanding is that she developed the concept, wrote the Bible, and helped sell it. I don't believe she wrote any part of any episode.
That would dovetail nicely to exactly the set of circumstances I find myself in.
So no mention on the credits... story/concept by zero/zip/nada?

Well as long as they know her at the bank.

I wonder if that no credit was negotiated or if that is just the way the cookie crumbles in that scenario via the rules and standard in the industry.

Thanks again so very much knghT
__________________
Doth thou desirest a slapping? - William Shakespeare
Charisma is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 01:03 PM   #9
Knaight
Member
 
Knaight's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: MA
Posts: 1,371
Default Re: Tv Sitcom Pilot... Creator Vs. Writer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charisma View Post
That would dovetail nicely to exactly the set of circumstances I find myself in.
So no mention on the credits... story/concept by zero/zip/nada?

Well as long as they know her at the bank.

I wonder if that no credit was negotiated or if that is just the way the cookie crumbles in that scenario via the rules and standard in the industry.

Thanks again so very much knghT
I don't think it's standard. The only reason I know this is because I spent a couple of days with this person last summer. It was recent enough that I remember some of the details, but far back enough that there are plenty that escape me.

The lack of credit may indeed have been negotiated. Not sure. I think in most cases any creator of a series will receive some kind of credit. I just wanted to point out that sometimes that's not the case.
Knaight is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 01:25 PM   #10
NikeeGoddess
User
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 7,211
Default Re: Tv Sitcom Pilot... Creator Vs. Writer?

i was told when meeting with a producer that if you're not a seasoned tv writer then she doesn't want a pilot from you. she needs a bible/writers' guidelines. then she could sell it by attaching a seasoned writer. she also said there is more money and less work as a show creator or executive producer, as stated above. so, i was like.... yesssss! b/c i don't really want to right tv episodes.
later after she passed... she told me it was good enough to take somewhere else so... i did write what i call a "sample" pilot to go with the proposal. then i did a cover of the TV Guide showcasing my new show.

seems like with so many cable channels doing their own scripted (and very edgy unlike network) tv shows that the market is really expanding.
NikeeGoddess is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:38 PM.


Powered by vBulletin Version 3.6.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Done Deal Pro

eXTReMe Tracker