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?
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
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.
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.
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.