Deep Space Detroit

Deep Space Detroit

by Diane Haithman

Here’s a diversity question some Detroit lunchgoers try to answer in 1983: Is E.T. black? 2,312 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

Detroit 1983

When General Motors announced its plan to save the auto industry with its first space mission to the moon Titan of the planet Saturn, the mission called for something special: burgers at Archibald’s Lunch. Despite its location just down Monroe Street in Greektown, Archibald’s Lunch was not at all Greek but was owned by a small wiry black man who never smiled. Archibald served burgers and tuna melts only. The tuna melts weren’t any good, and Archibald gave anyone who ordered a tuna melt such a fearsome look that the guilty party quickly called for a burger instead.

The foursome meeting up for lunch were dentist Mary, her hygienist Ramona, Detroit Free Press reporter Hollis, and the newspaper’s pop music critic Joe. Mary and Joe didn’t know each other. “Holy Moley, aren’t you the wife of our former movie critic, Carl Corbin?” he said to Mary when he met her.

Ex-wife,” Mary said quickly. “Very ex. Since last month.”

“His desk used to be right next to mine.” Joe paused. “Unusual kind of a fellow. That whole E.T. thing. What a fracas.”

“Fracas is a newspaper word, Joe,” Hollis exclaimed. “It’s like brouhaha. We write it, but nobody actually says it.” Even as Hollis spoke, he knew he couldn’t stop the conversation from veering toward the biggest fracas in recent Free Press history.

Carl had served a brief term as movie critic after completing his master’s in Film Studies at the University of Michigan. At the time he was abruptly let go, Free Press editors mumbled something about taking the Entertainment Now section in a new direction. But it was generally understood that the new guy from L.A. had been fired for not liking E.T.

Now, Mary was no critic — but if Carl had only asked her, she might have suggested that, in a town with an unemployment rate of 17 percent, where a young Chinese-American named Vincent Chin got beaten to death outside a topless bar just because two white auto workers thought he was Japanese, where thousands of desperate former auto workers were flowing like an oil leak to Texas or California seeking jobs, if he was even thinking of calling E.T. The Extraterrestrial, the biggest feel-good movie of 1982 and maybe of all time, “a maudlin self-indulgent wallow in Steven Spielberg’s affluent childhood angst with a tired sci-fi twist,” maybe he ought not to.

Continue reading

Diane Haithman on twitter
About The Author:
Diane Haithman
Diane Haithman was an LA Times Calendar staff writer covering entertainment and arts for two decades. She is a frequent contributor to Deadline and Awardsline and other publications and published her first novel. She was film reviewer and Hollywood columnist for the Detroit Free Press. She serves on the adjunct faculty of the USC School of Journalism.

Self Promotion
Part Two

by Mark Fearing

A TV VP who jumped up the corporate ladder finds out that the HR head is on to him. 2,399 words. Part One. Story and illustration by Mark Fearing.

Pulling into the Conglom Worldwide Entertaindom garage the next morning, the newly self-promoted Vice President of Domestic Television Production, Original Programming and New Material noticed his freshly painted name on the wall. The first floor parking spot was carpeted on this level, which made it nicer than Bruce Walker’s living room.

He rode the elevator with Stacy, the head of HR on the fifth floor.

“Bruce, I see the parking spot was taken care of.”

“Yes, thanks so much for your help.”

“Well, that’s my job. To be there for the employees. It just amazes me that your promotion was issued so quickly,” Stacy pressed.

“I told you it went through a month ago. Took that long for it to get on the phone list.”

“No, I don’t think so,” Stacy disputed. “If it happened a month ago, I’d have received an Executive Assistant Jobs Posting, something that can only come from the Heaven floors. I have only one from last month and your assistant wasn’t on it.”

Bruce knew to never trust HR. They may say they are on your side, but they know who pays the bills for those holiday parties and open bars.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Mark Fearing
Mark Fearing is an author and illustrator who has worked in TV and New Media for Sony, Disney, Nickelodeon, Freemantle, Adobe, Apple, Dreamworks Online and Microsoft. His children’s books have been published by Chronicle Books, Disney-Hyperion, Dial Books, HMH Books, and soon by Knopf Books and Candlewick Press.
Self Promotion nofade

Self Promotion
Part One

by Mark Fearing

Hollywood wannabes grow tired of climbing the corporate ladder. So this guy jumped. 2,601 words. Part Two. Story and illustration by Mark Fearing.

On another beautiful Los Angeles morning, Bruce Walker pulled into a parking space a little before 9:00 a.m. He parked on the Basement 9 floor which was actually eleven levels down but entertainment corporations have their own way of looking at numbers. As a halftime coordinator and part-time reader for Entertainer Entertainment, Bruce was lucky he even got to park in the headquarters.

Entertainer Entertainment created everything and anything that ended up on TV. A dozen years ago, the company was bought by Conglom Worldwide Entertaindom and now the “Conglom” building, as it was called, took up three blocks in every direction and was topped by a rooftop garden for the enjoyment of the almost unseen executives who worked on the 8th and 9th floors. This elite area was called Heaven.

Cathy sat at the front desk coolly answering, transferring and chatting, using a phone control pad that belonged on the space shuttle. Cathy had been up front for longer than Bruce had worked there. She was smart, efficient, good-humored and did her thankless work so well that she would never be promoted beyond it. So much for excelling at your job.

Most everyone ignored Cathy, but Bruce enjoyed spending a few minutes each morning receiving her rundown on everything happening in the building. “Three calls came in for Swain this morning from the Heaven floors,” Cathy confided, leaning over the front of the desk in mock dramatic fashion. “I think your favorite boss is having a tough time.”

“Maybe the six-hour lunches are finally catching up with him,” Bruce replied. “I don’t know why he doesn’t just use the restaurant on Robertson as his business address.”

Continue reading

About The Author:
Mark Fearing
Mark Fearing is an author and illustrator who has worked in TV and New Media for Sony, Disney, Nickelodeon, Freemantle, Adobe, Apple, Dreamworks Online and Microsoft. His children’s books have been published by Chronicle Books, Disney-Hyperion, Dial Books, HMH Books, and soon by Knopf Books and Candlewick Press.
Day Of The Dead

Day Of The Dead

by John Kane

Television executives know what it is to work for horrible bosses. Then there’s Niles. 2,261 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

The electronic display on his alarm clock read 4:13 a.m. when Peter Hallerman awoke in his heavily mortgaged home in Encino Hills. The emptiness in his stomach, the kind you get when someone breaks up with you or the doctor gives you bad news, made trying to go back to sleep futile. Careful not to wake his wife, Peter grabbed his grey terrycloth Polo robe and walked downstairs to the dining room.

He pulled a deck of cards out of a drawer in the dining room table and began to play solitaire. The ritualistic quality of the game, red on black, black on red, one match leading to another, lulled him into a contented stupor. His father had always told him that playing cards was a great way to relax. “And remember,” his dad, thirty one years a bus driver in New Jersey used to tell him, “it’s not the hand you’re dealt. It’s the way you play it. You make your own luck.”

Peter paused, not sure which pile to pick. And then it occurred to him: what did it matter? He let the card drop to the table. He would be at GPTV in four hours. That was all that really mattered.

GPTV was the brainchild of Auguste Gaumont, a French billionaire who had moved into broadcasting when he bought a second rate cable channel and decided to turn it into an American television network. Like Steve Ross and Sumner Redstone, Auguste had made his original fortune in another business. That business was urinals, which accounted for his company’s name, Gaumont Pissoirs. Naming the network GPTV seemed a way around that, and the marketing department went further, dubbing GPTV “the sixth network.” That backfired when many people in the industry began to call it “the sixth sense,” implying that GPTV was dead as a business only it didn’t know it yet.

Continue reading

About The Author:
John Kane
John Kane is the author of the comic novels Best Actress (published in six languages and made into a cable TV film) and Somebody Is Killing The Trophy Wives Of Beverly Hills” His play The Eleven O’Clock Number won several prizes. Prior to writing, he was an entertainment publicist for HBO, FX, Showtime, United Artists, AIP and Solters Roskin.
The Invisible final

The Invisible

by Richard Natale

As protector and pal to a Hollywood VIP, he did everything the boss asked. Everything. 3,470 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

If you look at any photo of the famous media mogul Magnus Byers taken over the past thirty years, chances are I’m in it. Not my face. No, never my face. But my arm, my shoulder or my flank. Right there next to the boss (I always call him boss, never Mr. Byers, and for sure not Magnus).

I’m there but at the same time invisible. And indispensable.

I’m not tooting my horn here. Just stating the facts. I contributed to his success from the very start and in ways that only he can appreciate. I know the boss better than anybody, better than my parents – and they gave birth to me. I know the good stuff and the bad stuff and he knows I know. But he trusts me. And I never gave him reason not to.

Hardly anybody outside Magnus Byers’ close circle knows my name or exactly what my responsibilities are. Most of them think I’m his bodyguard, just some big tough who doesn’t say much probably because I’m a little soft in the head. And that suits me fine. Keeps them from asking questions. Annoying questions. Awkward questions.

I don’t like being asked questions.

Except for some hoax kidnapping threat about twenty years ago, keeping people out of the boss’s face is the least of my duties. I just step out front, fold my arms and give them the old stare down. They back off pretty quick. Just the same, I always keep a sidearm handy. Perfectly legit. Got a permit and everything. Practice firing it every week at the Beverly Hills Gun Club. My aim is still dead-on, even after all these years. Yeah, I’d take a bullet for him. What of it?

The boss created, bought and sold newspapers, TV and radio stations, movie theaters, casinos, resorts, satellite and internet. His finger in every pie and made more dough out of it than any of his competitors. Men looked up to him, wanted to be him. Women were impressed by him, even the ones who eventually tried to suck him dry. He was feared and respected but rarely loved. Even by his own kids. Especially by his own kids. Five of them. By three different wives. They barely tolerated each other. Their only common goal was waiting for him to kick the bucket and destroying everything he built. Talk about a lack of respect.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Richard Natale
Richard Natale is a film journalist and writer whose short stories have appeared in Wilde Oats, Chelsea Station, Gertrude and Off the Rocks. His recent novel Café Eisenhower was an honorable mention at the 2015 Rainbow Awards. His latest novel is Love On The Jersey Shore. Natale wrote/directed Green Plaid Shirt, an indie feature which played at film festivals globally.
Eyes on Nero Part Two

Eyes On Nero
Part Two

by Morgan Hobbs

A writer and a studio mogul continue their conversation – with unpredictable results. 2,136 words. Part One. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

Of course, the exploding head hung over their meeting like a burning air ship, coating everything in sparks and glowing shrapnel and flames, impregnating every exchange between them. Nero knew that the writer Richard Blow knew that the matter simply would never come up for discussion.

Blow had been summoned, through his agent, to Nero’s secluded Bel Air lair the very next day. The enormous butler escorted the writer without ado down a winding hallway that led to a large high ceilinged chamber deep within the house. A smartly dressed young woman with red hair sat just outside operating a conference phone that was lit up like an alien spacecraft. She pressed the buttons with one hand, opening and closing and merging lines, transferring calls to distant area codes in outer space, controlling the console without looking at the keys.

With much aplomb, and perfect posture, her eyes never leaving the computer screen, Regina connected a man’s voice, a West Coast voice.

Man: “The California financing is pulling out. The Texas money is hung up in the Suez. The French fuckers are getting cold feet. The Asian thinks he’s gonna be left holding the bag. “

Nero: “I’m sending someone to Hong Kong to hold his hand.”

Man: “Gonna take more than hand holding at this point.”

Blow waited in the wings, playing the part of the fly on the wall as he indulged this rare opportunity to observe the maestro at work. To the untrained ear, the sounds would have been indistinguishable from the unholy din at any big production company or agency where an army of self-important hacks rolled call after call in a ham-fisted attempt to throw a million gallons of shit against the wall and see what stuck. But, in the span of a few minutes, Blow witnessed a dozen films born, the master tossing together the critical elements of directors, writers, actors, locations, producers, budgets, second act cliffhangers as quickly and deftly as Picasso applied his palimpsests of Cubist black magic onto virgin canvasses.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Morgan Hobbs
Morgan Hobbs was a reader for Alpine Pictures, 1492 Pictures and Harpo Film and story editor for Greentree Pictures. He provided production support for the indie film The Discontents. He has written for Mississippi Review and Pindeldyboz and co-founded Paris Belletric's Archer Prize for Screenwriting. He just finished the Hollywood novel I'm The Bomb.
Eyes On Nero Part One

Eyes On Nero
Part One

by Morgan Hobbs

Heads spin when a writer and studio mogul start conversing during a pitch meeting. 2,160 words. Part Two. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

The writer stepped out of the glass elevator and approached the receptionist’s desk. “Richard Blow. I have an 11:30 with Heller and Nero.”

“Good morning, Mr. Blow. Please have a seat. I’ll let Mr. Heller know that you’ve arrived.”

Blow nodded and parked himself under the Rothko. He sat in the chair with a hint of a smile, looking focused but relaxed for what was sure to be yet another ordinary pitch meeting, filled with promise but ending in no result. The receptionist offered water. Blow politely declined. He picked up a magazine, the latest issue of Vanity Fair, and opened it to an interview with the actor du jour Tony Billings. At first glance, the article was the usual puff piece.

After a time, Heller appeared. Blow stood up, and the two shook hands. They’d met before, in previous meetings and on conference calls. They’d run into each other at parties. They had a mutual friend in a talent agent at International Artists. Heller mentioned over drinks at the Peninsula that they were looking for some fresh material. The agent passed along Blow’s name, calling him a super creative guy stuck churning out sitcoms but trying to break into features. He’d written three or four scripts that got some serious looks. He’s developing a story that sounds right up Heller’s alley. Sort of a romantic thriller. Give him a meeting.

Heller set it up through Blow’s manager after watching several episodes of the sitcom. The writing was pretty good — smart and funny. The story had a few surprises but nothing that suggested Blow could handle an original feature. Sitcom writing was formula writing. Features followed a formula, too, but the lack of strict conventions, established characters, running storyline, often presented a daunting task for writers accustomed to the series format. Still, Nero wanted fresh material and fresh faces.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Morgan Hobbs
Morgan Hobbs was a reader for Alpine Pictures, 1492 Pictures and Harpo Film and story editor for Greentree Pictures. He provided production support for the indie film The Discontents. He has written for Mississippi Review and Pindeldyboz and co-founded Paris Belletric's Archer Prize for Screenwriting. He just finished the Hollywood novel I'm The Bomb.
Community Service

Community Service

by David H. Steinberg

An agency’s summer intern may never learn the reality behind his unexpected visitor. 1,912 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

Inside the Kappa Nu house on Gayley Avenue in the heart of Westwood lived some of UCLA’s finest. Chapter President Travis Donnelly always felt that the frat houses on campus got a bum rap. Sure, they got a little rowdy sometimes and broke a few rules regarding underage drinking. But what about the car wash to fight autism? Fraternities were more than just a bunch of drunk guys trying to get laid. They were about a bond of brotherhood that lasted a lifetime.

Travis had confronted a similar bias in his summer internship at a major Hollywood agency. He didn’t like to name drop, but it was one of the big ones. People assume agents are assholes, but the truth is it’s not the 1980s anymore. This summer he witnessed no one throwing hot coffee at their assistants or doing coke off of hookers’ asses. It was all corporate now, and multi-national companies had reputations to maintain and whole departments devoted to charitable giving. Yes, he wanted to be a powerbroker one day, but he learned from his mentors at the agency that the business isn’t just about commerce, it’s also about doing good. Travis learned that agents have the power to make great art. Film and television were the modern forms of American literature and Travis came out of his internship wanting to make entertainment that mattered.

Of course there were also cool parties to attend and celebrities to meet and the interns did get some great stories to tell. He even met Selena Gomez at The Standard. But none of that really mattered to Travis. It was all about doing good. On the other hand, the internship program was a bit of a grind with scripts to cover every weekend, and Travis wasn’t afraid to admit that he was glad to be back in college for one more year before he had to enter the real world.

So, on this warm Sunday afternoon, it was nice to be able to chill with his bros without any responsibilities. The video game of choice was Grand Theft Auto V, and Travis, with his curly mop of brown hair and lanky frame, was hunched over on the couch, kicking doughy Pete Westerly’s ass in multiplayer mode as a handful of other brothers watched in the house’s large common room.

Suddenly, the doorbell rang.
Continue reading

About The Author:
David H. Steinberg
David H. Steinberg scripted Slackers, several American Pie films, National Lampoon's Barely Legal and the Kindergarten Cop remake as well as Puss in Boots, Tinker Bell and the Pixie Hollow Games. His episode of The Simpsons was nominated for a WGA award. He writes for three shows: Yo-kai Watch on Disney XD, Space Racers on NBC Sprout, and The Kicks on Amazon. He is now writing/executive producing an original animated series for YouTube Red.
Leap of Faith FINAL

Leap Of Faith

by Ken Pisani

A sportswriter futilely pitching Hollywood finds the one story they want but can’t have. 2,522 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

Jack Williams was a New York sportswriter for thirty years before Hollywood beckoned. Actually, it didn’t so much "beckon" as merely exist on the other side of the country and, upon his arrival, disappear like Brigadoon. Several of Jack’s articles had been optioned by Hollywood producers for significant sums of money — sums that went to his employer, Sports: The Magazine. Jack had been content with the small bonuses he received on each option. But it stood to reason that if so much money was being recklessly parceled out for projects that never reached fruition beyond the issuing of the check, as if the option itself were the endgame, then why not cut out the middleman?

So Jack fled both the magazine and the Brooklyn neighborhood that had been slowly and covertly gentrified out from under him and headed west. To mine the gold that leaked from the pockets of the well-tailored men and women who, when they deigned to receive an audience, desired only one thing:

"Tell me a story," as the young executive asked with the yearning of a child at bedtime but none of the joy or wonder.

"Excuse me?" Jack replied, not that there had been any mistaking the nature of the request, only momentary confusion that the question had no preamble — no introduction or greeting of "hello" or even eye contact as the man poked at the phone smarter than he was.

"You know, a story," he expanded with five additional syllables. "With a beginning, a middle and an end."

And so Jack did. All over town. Jack told them all stories. Of "Wild" Harry Greb, a boxer who embodied The Roaring Twenties more than Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, and Al Capone combined. Greb was a nightclub-hopping rough-and-tumble brawler with educated thumbs that filled his opponents’ eyes in a clinch, a middleweight forced to battle much bigger men because fighters in his own weight class wouldn’t get in the ring with him. That Greb fought the latter part of his career while blind in one eye, and died at the age of twenty-six during an operation to correct the damage, struck those who heard it as "unbelievable." Not in the best sense of a great story ("Incredible!") but in the worst sense of Hollywood filmmaking because ("Nobody’s going to believe that!").

Continue reading

About The Author:
Ken Pisani
Ken Pisani was an Emmy-nominated TV sportswriter producer for Sports Illustrated Television, Wide World Of Sports, CNN, Fox Sports, TNT, as well as on co-productions with the NBA and ESPN. He is currently co-writing a true sports feature film with Oscar winner David Seidler, His debut novel AMP’D is a Los Angeles Times bestseller just published by St. Martin’s.
Silverbergs Ghost 03

Silverberg’s Ghost

by Howard Jay Klein

Who will succeed this ailing Big Media chairman/CEO? Only the board knows. 3,042 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

Dennis Medwick was up at six, peering through the bedroom window of his Bel Air home, watching the gleaming black Tesla pull up the driveway and stop, idling to a barely audible purr. He heard stirring and saw his wife Sandra, habitually a late Saturday morning riser, already sitting up, propped on her elbows, sleep mask off.

"What’s with you?" he asked, glancing at his watch. "It’s midnight Sandra time."

She ignored his gibe. "Bert here yet?"

"Outside. I’d better get moving. You know, it’s gang warfare day."

"I’m still baffled by all this," she said, swinging her legs off the bed. "You’re the studio head. You made more money than any of the ten morons who came before you. You’re going to be CEO, chairman, macher-in- chief, Dennis. Period," she said, lacing her arms across her chest. "I’m confident that sanity will ultimately prevail — even in this looney town." After a reflective pause, she added, "Doesn’t it?"

"We’ll see," he laughed, padding across to the bathroom.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Howard Jay Klein
Howard Jay Klein is a 25-year executive and consultant in the Atlantic City casino industry. He oversaw marketing, operations and entertainment for Caesar's and Trumps' Taj Mahal and created Grandstand Under The Stars for outdoor concerts with Sinatra, Bennett, Dylan, Chicago, Springsteen and others. He publishes Casino Management Review and writes novels.
Dicks Nice Day 2

Dick’s Nice Day

by Ned Dymoke

A Reality TV editor abandons his job after a quake and then finds real satisfaction. 1,899 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

Dick considered openly weeping onto the editing console. But that, he thought, might short circuit the machine and actually make his workday longer.

The clock on the opposite wall was entering hour nine of what was shaping up to be a sixteen hour day at HRB Post in a dingy room above an even dingier strip mall in one of the dingiest pockets of Santa Monica Boulevard in East Hollywood. Unsmiling men and women of dubious and indistinguishable national origin milled around outside, entirely oblivious to the life of Dick Nadal, age 31, with only that amount in his checking account. His hair was thinning but he was not, and he considered taking a second lunch at the Zankou Chicken on Sunset.

Nobody there would stop him from having a good cry.

Dick worked as Department Editor at HRB Post, a job title that sounded exclusive but was simply a sixteen letter cover-up to mask the horrors of painstakingly editing together Reality TV footage of young idiots into a cohesive show. Today’s editing session was for the third season of The Snatch, a terribly monikered name for a visually harrowing series.

His day was peppered with questions such as whether Cindy, the 23-year-old blonde bartender from Dallas, should be shown spouting quasi-racist rhetoric before or after it was made apparent to the viewer that she was under the influence of several dozen Jello shots. There was a note from the director that the set didn’t even have Jello so now the entire legal team was refusing to sign off. Dick decided to edit in a split second of B-reel footage of an empty Jello box and punch in a musical sting for added comedic effect. He was, by several accounts, a fantastic editor. And yet, sadly, he should really have been working on something a whole lot better. He picked his nose as scene 32-A rolled out.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Ned Dymoke
Ned Dymoke is a writer whose work has appeared in Vice, Interview, Playboy, Esquire, Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Channel and other media under the name Ned Hepburn. He has published two books, Brother Louie and Life's Rich Pattern, and is currently writing for TV and film. He just finished a novel.
Picasso 6

The Big Picasso

by Jeffrey Peter Bates

A scandal-plagued Big Media mogul has a painting problem. Guess who investigates? 2,772 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

Allegra Chandler sashayed through the Polo Lounge like she owned the place. And, judging by the number of swiveling heads, she certainly owned the room. Why the hell not? She was movie star gorgeous, with an aura of insouciant sexiness and steely self-confidence that let the world know she was a woman who wasn’t afraid to spit in its eye.

As she zig-zagged across the outdoor patio, Allegra flashed a warm smile at the man who occupied a table in the far corner. He could see she was an absolute knockout. But he also knew she was more than that: whip smart, elegantly graceful, and as mysterious and complex as a movie studio’s profit and loss statement.

“Hello, McNulty,” Allegra said, brushing her lips against his.

“Still turning heads, I see,” the Hollywood private eye responded as Allegra sat down. “Martini?”

“Are they good?”

“Must be,” McNulty replied, beckoning a waiter with a wave of his hand. “The urinals are filled with olive pits.”

Continue reading

About The Author:
Jeffrey Peter Bates
Jeffrey Peter Bates is a longtime member of the WGA and the Academy for Television Arts and Sciences. He is currently the Creative Director at Onyx Productions Direct Inc where he writes and directs commercials and infomercials. He sold a screenplay, had several scripts optioned and has written for Rod Serling, Kirk Douglas, Vincent Price, Jack Palance, Jonathan Winters.
Staffing Season 02

Staffing Season

by Adam Scott Weissman

A fired showrunner’s assistant looks for a new job as a writer. Good luck with that. 3,027 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.

Caleb was glad when the show was canceled. He felt guilty about his schadenfreude for about five minutes. Now he wouldn’t have to make up a lie about why he wasn’t returning or, worse, tell the truth: that he “hadn’t been invited back,” which was code for being fired.

He had done his best to make amends for his wrap party meltdown – going off on his boss for sleeping with a young female staff writer and not promoting Caleb, dissing the TV community’s push for diversity which meant young white wannabes like himself had a tougher time getting hired. After a few weeks, he’d asked the showrunner Bryan to lunch so they could bury the hatchet. Bryan downgraded the lunch to coffee.

Caleb had worked for Bryan for four years, and that hopefully counted for something now. The showrunner came through. He gave Caleb a signed letter of recommendation and a business card with the number of an agent at CAA. “I sent your writing samples to Terri at the agency. She used to be my agent Bob’s assistant. She just got promoted and she’s hungry for clients. I told her to make you a priority read. And she will. Lord knows I’ve made that company enough money.”

It was a whole lot more than most showrunners in town would have done for an ex-assistant, and Caleb felt pretty grateful.

Caleb didn’t even wait until he got home to call Terri. He texted her from his car. Surprisingly, he got an immediate reply: Will call in 45.

That was at 11 a.m. For the rest of the day, Caleb’s heart skipped a beat every time his cell vibrated.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Adam Scott Weissman
Adam Scott Weissman graduated from USC's School Of Cinematic Arts in 2010. He co-wrote a CSI: NY episode, wrote a made-for-TV movie and sold a pilot to the CW. He adapted, directed, and produced the play Might As Well Live: Stories by Dorothy Parker for the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival and won the Encore Producer’s Award. Working From Home is his novel-in-progress.
Reality Check - NEW FACE

Reality Check

by Jordan Pope

The front desk man at a talent agency for Reality TV finds the job too real too often. 2,375 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

Security calls me and I say, “Send him up,” with the air of a gatekeeper. Any second now, this guy will be pushing the buzzer and I have no idea why he’s here. It’s 4:25 on Friday. I thought we were done for the day.

The guard downstairs says the guy’s here for Daniel Turner. I have access to Dan’s calendar on Outlook, and I see no appointment for 4:30. I have five minutes until then to figure this out.

The buzzer sounds and the camera’s feed lights up. There he is, the mystery man, his hand already on the agency’s front door handle. An eager beaver, this one. I unlock the door with the push of a buzzer and he walks in, glancing around the space. He spots me and flashes a smile. He’s tall and handsome but has an air about him that suggests he’s used to the royal treatment.

Usually, visitors approach my reception desk to check in. Many are already familiar with the procedure and simply give a wave and go straight for the sofas. But this guy stays rooted where he is, probably expecting me to come to him.

“Hey there, I have a 4:30 with Dan Turner,” he tells me with a snap of his fingers.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Jordan Pope
Jordan Pope is a Guatemalan-born writer who graduated from the Savannah College of Art & Design with a film and TV degree. He currently works for Discovery and before that Universal Studios Hollywood. His writing consists of short stories, novellas and screenplays in the drama and sci-fi realms.
In The Mix 02

Disorderly Conduct

by Ann Hamilton

Writers on a new TV series love everything about their job. Well, almost everything. 1,983 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

It’s a dream job. I imagine Disorderly running for years. A guaranteed job. No more jumping from show to show to show. I’m working on a TV series with smart, funny, non-asshole people, a production company that buys us lunch, a pilot plus ten order guaranteed, and a show that’s fun to write. It’s about crazy attorneys and cops. Imagine an amped up, whacked out Law & Order. The showrunner/creator, Stefan, is amazing. No ego, a nice guy who insists on sane hours, thinks writers get burned out by being in the room too long. The first week of the show, he invited us over to his house for a barbeque. He didn’t hire a caterer, either. He did the grilling himself. His wife made cupcakes.

Like I said, dream job.

The rest of the Disorderly staff is great, too. And I’m back with my friend Lisa from Ghombie (aka piece of shit). Thank God, it got canceled. “Pinch me, Kyle,” Lisa says on the job every day. “This is way too good to be true.”

“Don’t jinx it,” I tell her.

Stefan wants us to meet the cast so the actors and actresses stop by the office. It’s mostly an ensemble show, but there are two big guy parts. Matthew Roth is the arrogant attorney. He’s done a ton of TV and a couple of indie films. The first thing he says is how blessed he is to be doing a show like this. Blessed.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Ann Hamilton
Ann Hamilton is a TV and film writer and producer. Her TV credits include Haven, The Dead Zone, Grey’s Anatomy, Saved, Party of Five, Thirtysomething and numerous pilots. She was twice nominated for an Emmy award, and was the winner of a WGA Award and the Humanitas Prize. Her first novel Expecting was published in 2014.
One Of Us final

A Teaser For The TV Industry

by Jay Abramowitz

A one-time TV comedy writer must clean up classrooms as well as his career. 1,249 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.

Decades ago, I made an impressive living as a writer and producer of network sitcoms, shows such as Full House and Growing Pains, that were aimed at a kid audience. They were frothy, bouncy entertainments that portrayed family life in the late twentieth century United States through decidedly rose-colored glasses. But even then I had a darker vision of America, one that acknowledges life’s limitless complexities, that embraces the tragic elements of existence as well as the comic. So the original half-hour series I pitched were directed at adults – a Vietnam War comedy, a lesbian laugher, etc.

And because I was pigeonholed as a “children’s sitcom writer,” I was unable to sell any of those ideas. Upon leaving more than one executive’s office, I was certain I could hear, through the slammed door, unrestrained derisive laughter.

In my eighteen years as an elementary school janitor I’ve had abundant opportunity to contemplate my comedy life. So much time squandered on bitterness at an industry I deeply felt had wronged me! But recently, other setbacks – a second divorce, the refusal of my beloved daughter Isabel to answer my phone calls, a minor concussion from a fall in the second-floor girls’ bathroom – have motivated me to take responsibility for my life, to look inward, to ruminate on what choices I might have made to avoid my current professional circumstances.

Pondering my situation yesterday morning while plunging a clogged toilet in that same bathroom, I recalled a quotation from William James: “Invent some manner of realizing your own ideals which will also satisfy the alien demands – that and that only is the path of peace.”

A light went off in my head.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Jay Abramowitz
Jay Abramowitz wrote and produced a dozen sitcoms and comedy pilots for Warner Bros Television, CBS, ABC. The UCLA Film School graduate was head writer on the animated PBS series Liberty's Kids that blended the American revolution with vocal talents of Dustin Hoffman, Annette Bening, Liam Neeson, Michael Douglas and Billy Crystal. His first novel Formerly Cool (written with Tom Musca) will be published this year.