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Television Writing FAQs


These are some questions that were e-mailed to me following my last speaking engagement.  If you have additional questions, just e-mail me and I will post questions and answers here.

Q. What specs are you tired of seeing and what ones will have some longevity?

Personally, I am tired of reading spec scripts of "The Practice."  I'm not sure why that show is such a popular choice for spec scripts, but it is.  I find the characters' voices to be pretty interchangeable, and so a spec doesn't tell me much about a writer's ability to write the characters accurately.  

I can tell you that on my show, the Sopranos spec scripts were read first and with the most enthusiasm.  That's because the show itself is so well written and the characters are so clear and defined, it's easy to read a Sopranos spec and tell whether or not the writer can write.

No spec scripts have longevity.  You always have to have current specs.  The most important thing is to choose a show that can demonstrate your ability.  Don't choose a humorless show if you're trying to sell yourself to shows that have humor.  You have to show your potential employer that you can do what he or she needs you to do.

 Q.  What is the future for episodic television? Have we surrendered to unscripted series for a few years?

We are stuck with unscripted series until the public gets sick of them.  I hope that will be soon, for the sake of a lot of terrific writers who are out of work, not to mention new writers trying to break in.  I have no idea about the future of episodic television.  I remember the "comedy is dead" panic of 1980, and "The Cosby Show" single-handedly ended that.  A couple of years ago, drama was dead.  Then ER brought it back to life and comedy was dead again.  Meanwhile, neither has ever died -- there's just a constant ebb and flow.  I think that the success of cable series is a great reason for aspiring writers to hope, especially as the years (and strikes) go by and the cable networks begin to pay salaries that are comparable to the rest of the industry.