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06/18/2002 - BETTER HAVE A PLAN ?B?


Dear Friends,

Damn, I was getting used to those easy index columns. Now I'm actually going to have to bear down and catch you up as to what I've been doing. It's a tad sensitive right now, even though it basically boils down to not getting my first choice in jobs for the summer.

See, we're coming to the tail end of what they call "staffing season" right now - where all the television networks staff their new shows with producers of various levels (basically, writers), as well as staff writers, assistants, crews, etc. The process begins in earnest in mid-May, as quickly as possible after the network schedule announcements in order to get shows into production. It is an incredibly difficult sphere to break into - something that takes years of dues-paying, and even then offers no guarantee of staffing positions year in and year out.

All right, so here's the annoying part -- I didn't get staffed this year. Oh heck, it's not as bad as it sounds, since I actually had a pretty good plan "B" in place. It's just that one of the new shows seemed like a fun and exciting opportunity, so I wanted to work on it. To make matters worse, the chances seemed pretty good for a while that I would. After all, I had worked with the production company before, and they seemed to have positive feelings about me. Plus, they were talking to my old boss about working on it, so I figured that I at least had a chance.

But things happen when networks are staffing shows, and most of those things involve networks dictating to studios and production companies exactly who they want on their show. And this time around, on this particular show, who the network wanted did not involve me or anyone I knew. Damn. The nerve of these networks wanting to choose writers for their own shows!

I could sit here and say that I'm happy I get to continue working at my own pace, or that the other jobs I have are more financially lucrative, so it's for the best, but who am I kidding?

The near-miss was a lot harder than if I had never had a shot, but now that I have had a few weeks to digest this, I'm using it as further motivation to make my spec script that much better. Sort of an "I'll show them" theme playing over and over in my head. So far, I'm maintained my sanity, and actually managed to move forward a little.

I am very lucky in that I have other options. I have too many writer friends - guys with staff experience - who don't have anything as a back-up. This was a very visceral reminder to me that, if I didn't have the back-up, I would have had to work FAR harder to guarantee that I was on a series. It'll be a lesson I remember for next year - when I might not have a plan "B" that is quite as appealing.

Plan "G,"



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