Thanks to everyone who congratulated me on the various projects I’ve got in the works.  Of course, the mere fact that I’m busy doesn’t guarantee anything.  Three months ago, I had almost eighteen different projects on the go, most of which have since dematerialized like a red-shirt ensign teleporting planetside so that he can lend Kirk some much-needed back-up.

Don’t get me wrong.  A couple of the projects I mentioned yesterday look very promising, but I know from experience not to take anything for granted.  I learned that lesson the hard way not too long ago…

I received an email informing me that a green lit show was looking for a showrunner and those involved were eager to work with me.  I needed to get on the phone with the president of the company that week!  So, I read all of the supporting materials, then got on the phone with the president of the company and discussed everything from the show’s budget to where we would shoot.  I was told we would need to move quickly!

I spent the weekend reviewing the materials so that we could hit the ground running on Monday.  Which came and went with no word.  Then Tuesday came and went.  Then Wednesday.  I emailed the president of the company wondering what was up.  Wasn’t this supposed to be a fast track project?  No response.  Thursday. Friday.  Finally, Monday, I was contacted by their director of development who apologized (they were away) and, over the course of the conversation, informed me that the project was not, in fact, green lit.  It was a script to series deal (And, days later, not a script to series deal either).  I would need to prepare and pitch my vision for the prospective series.

And so, I spent the better of that week reviewing materials and putting together a detailed pitch of the series pilot and a series overview.  I got on the phone and pitched my take to the director of development who was very positive, offered me a few suggestions, and then set a time for me to pitch the broadcaster.

The following Monday, I pitched the broadcast exec.  He had a few questions.  I answered.  I was thanked for my time and then…nothing.  While I wasn’t expecting an immediate response from the broadcaster, I assumed I’d at least receive an email from my partners on the pitch letting me know how they thought it went, offering me some sort of timeline.  Instead – radio silence.  The next day, I reached out to the director of development who informed me they expected a decision later that week.

Then on Friday, I received a call from the president of the company. And by the tone of his voice, I could tell it wasn’t good news.  “I hate making these types of calls,”he began and I felt bad.  Not for me, but for him.  I wanted to tell him that I believed we had a great pitch and that we could just take it somewhere else.  This wasn’t the end.  But, as it turned out, it was the end.  For me anyway.  “As you know,”he said, “we went out to a number of different showrunners for this project.”

Actually, no.  I didn’t know.

Apparently, the show had been picked up, but the broadcaster had elected to go with someone else’s take.

Normally, this would have been cause for frustration, but not to the extent I experienced that day mainly because I had been misinformed about a project that had gone from a green light to a blinking yellow to a full-stop red.

The incident soured me, not only on the industry as a whole, but on a few people as well.  Still, it did teach me a very valuable lesson about not counting your chickens before they’re hatched – or crewing your production until you have a signed contract.

So, for the time being, I’m going to pretend I haven’t been offered that showrunning gig, or been hired to write that pilot script, or am on the cusp of having that series I’ve been developing for the past nine months green lit. Instead, I’m going to keep working and focus on those comic book projects.

Oh, and maintain my torrid reading pace.  So far this year, 226 books and counting!  A job would really throw a wrench into my book-a-day average.

26 thoughts on “July 14, 2018: From green light to blinking yellow to full-stop red! The realities of the television business!

  1. Ugh, what a business.

    It still boggles my mind how lax these people are with follow-up calls and emails, etc. It all just seems to unprofessional.

    Onward, by all means!

  2. Sorry to hear. But still hoping you’ll get a good and confirm offer soon/eventually. Stay strong! (Sending you lots of positive energy from this mysterious space of mine.)

  3. A job would really throw a wrench into my book-a-day average.

    So that’s why my reading stack keeps getting larger! 😉

    I sympathize with the holding pattern, but I’m also glad that you’re working on the comic book projects. Idle hands are the devil’s work progress administration assignment…or something like that.

  4. You handled that very well Joe. I can’t imagine dealing with what you do in the business. All that work for nothing.

  5. What a crazy business. I’m sorry you keep running into these dead ends. Can’t they see what a great show runner you are? Their loss. The right project will make itself known and everything will gel under your control.

  6. Well I’m glad there are people who can stomach the BS inherent in the entertainment industry enough to produce stuff like SGU and Dark Matter but between everything I’ve read and from what people have told me (I live in the greater L.A. area) I certainly couldn’t.

  7. I know one can’t be the least bit complacent about anything … until it actually happens, nevertheless, – without any expectations until it does – I certainly hope it does indeed. Wishing only good luck.

  8. I understand your frustration. As a viewer I was watching Friday night tv. Now they have the new HI-5-O. (Grace Parks has left.) They also had a new add for the new Magnum P.I. while I was watching Blue Bloods with Tom Sellick. They had MacGyver on a month or so ago, but it seems to have run its course. I thought having RDA as a crossover (dad) meeting his new persona (kid) in the last seen show would have been good going forward and those who saw the original, but like your experience with green lits, those “smarter” and make the BIG choices didn’t agree. I am back to USGrant’s personal memoirs and a reason for using my West Point Atlas of American Wars. It give me a perspective of the Civil War that the book lacks.Then I have a list of online course work for Hillsdale College Econ 101 and supplemental book New Deal or Raw Deal? I also cam across Thomas Souls, Basic Economics. Then I can turn my attention to Brad Thor’s and Daniel Silva’s newest. And my list is growing. As the networks are coming out with new show I learned the Melissa O’Neal and Nathan Fillion’s new show the Rockie will be on Tuesday. That has I can’t wait all over it.

  9. Boy what a turn if events! I really feel for you, Joe. It’s bad enough to do all that work and then lose it, but to find out that you were playing the game with the wrong set of rules, well, that’s just awful,

    Over the years, but especially when you’ve been between shows, I’ve often wondered how often you’re been lied to by actual decision makers? Since you don’t seem to mention it, I figured that it must be the exception, not the rule. But I have to wonder whether or not the industry mindset is just to be positive about everything until the truth is unavoidable and literally etched in stone! It seems as if the general rule of thumb is to string out the actual verdicts as long as possible. Perhaps most creators and writers just let things hang, preferring to hear anything but a, “No”?

    It just seems like a bad way of doing business to me. Regardless, I am sorry to read about this stuff happening to you. When your able to, I’m sure a lot of us would love to hear about the ones that have gotten away, Not the actual ideas or concepts, but what the networks or the actual decision makers tell you when they pass on your projects. ( if they ever get around to it!)

    One thing I have learned from being a long time blog reader, is that the rainbow with the pot of gold at the end could be coming the next time you answer your phone!

  10. I go by Ben Browder rule: never count on a project as a go until money is in escrow.

    I’m always astounded at the rudeness and cowardly behavior in creative industries. Web design projects have similar run around stupiditites. I think your healthy skepticism is grateful. Hang in there

  11. Oh Joe I’m so so sorry to hear this. How terribly frustrating.

    Here’s hoping your weekend proves more enjoyable and next weeks meetings turn your frown upside down.

    Sounds like it might be a good weekend for some comfort food, eh?
    Pistachio macarons & a big ole freshly baked chocolate chip cookie! xo

    wow. Such an awful coincidence too.
    Must be something in the drinking water
    or some crazy mad cow like virus going around.
    A similar thing recently happened to poor Oscar.
    Just when it was beginning to look like he was on the verge
    of proving himself the biggest celebrity of all time,
    Cookie monster stepped in and reclaimed the spotlight,
    stating he was there first and the networks were obligated.

    Watch this. It’ll cheer you up.
    Everybody’s hero in action:

  12. Yeah, crazy biz. Truly unprofessional. But work can be highly over-rated (depending on your situation). Enjoy those books! And burgers! And Akemi! Etc. Not necessarily in that order.

  13. The words I would say would get bleeped, so just imagine them. You work in a hard and heartless field, yes. But honesty is not an option.

    1. @aluncox. Joe’s referring to what happened recently when he had all those marbles on the race track.
      He’s just experiencing a major dose of anxiety this weekend because of this horrible, beyond frustrating, experience.
      After once again having done all the long hard prep work, and now, once again, being told he has a green light for Projects A & E, no one has signed anything on the dotted line yet, so he doesnt want to spend anymore energy getting his hopes up considering it could all still just as easily fall apart in the blink of an eye, regardless of being told yes.

      I can definitely sympathize with this.
      After all the long, hard work I did
      to get Oscar The Grouch recognized
      as the worlds biggest celebrity of all time
      those damned network & production co execs
      didnt waste any time recasting Cookie Monster
      in big leading man movie roles that had been
      verbally promised to Oscar!

      Watch this! Its absolutely pitiful!!! Everyone knows Oscar would have
      been a thousand times more effective in this role, eh!?

  14. I pride myself on a rapid response. Email, especially, I always ensure that I haven’t left a response any more than a few hours.
    I HATE people that don’t.
    And waiting for a reply can be the WORST!!

  15. That would be very frustrating! Fingers crossed! On the bright side, you’re not in Scarlett Johansson’s position.

  16. What’s happened to you nearly killed me. This industry is notoriously full of corporate hacks who abuse writers and producers. In 2002, I learned the hard way that projects that look promising one day can go south the next, especially when dealing with egos of the execs in the media business. I was so frustrated by my experience in 2002, I had a stroke and was hospitalized in Las Vegas, the worst place to be when you’ve put all your eggs in one basket and run out of funds. My script was stolen, I was cut out of the deal, and the only thing that saved my story was that the people who stole it from me were turned down for their financing. Their Karma was earned. I was stranded and homeless for nearly 3 years and only survived because an acquaintance decided to become a good friend. I came back to my town forgotten (thankfully enough time went by) and I hobbled along doing industrial video editing and audio production until my health worsened to an early retirement and now cancer. I am relieved, despite everything, that I never got my film deal in Vegas, that the financial crisis of 2007/2008 killed my 100M film deals, and that I ended up retired but a lot smarter. You were a lot smarter at your age than I was as you have a lot of eggs in a lot of baskets. I unfortunately just had one or two eggs in some rickety baskets. Now egg-less and basket challenged, I just enjoy movies and television shows to watch rather than produce. I made lemonade out of the lemons only after many horrifying events. You learned early and I applaud your dedication to your work and to your craft undaunted by the machinations of an industry rife with posers and users. You WILL succeed because you have all the tools of a great writer and producer, especially the ability to adapt. I wish you much success and happiness always. I have faith you will do well.

  17. You’re on a short list of sharp producers who can wrangle huge and intricately complex productions with special effect over decades and that is pretty awesome. Who knows what may come of that frustrating near miss, summer is a time for musical chairs in show business.

    I’m bummed that People of Earth got canceled at the last minute, so if any of you are fans pls sign the petition.

  18. It blows my mind that shows like Dark Matter get cancelled but Housesluts of any given city and I’m a rich bimbo make an ass of yourself to marry me tv shows get picked up for more and more seasons. Not sure if it’s the mental capacity of viewers that has rotted away or if it’s the business. I think you’re brilliant and if Netflix has a clue as to what entertainment is they would pick that series up. At least they put you on my radar so I’ll be rooting for you and excited to see what you do next. ❤

  19. I sympathize. I yearn for the good old days when there was at least a level of certainty. I’m not talking about the TV business – that has always been a crapshoot. I mean the days when red shirts were marked for sudden death, or even just the days when someone on that show wore a red shirt, or any shirt, for that matter, that vaguely resembled the shirts they were supposed to be wearing.

    Like SGU before it, Dark Matter was my Star Trek for this millennium.

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