Category Archives: Networks

All In The Details

by Richard Natale

Major media maguls are control freaks not just about their business but also their life. 2,652 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


No matter how he crunched the numbers, Darby Morton saw little chance of making it to graduation with a roof over his head. He’d exhausted almost all of his maternal grandmother Nan’s allowance and what was left, to the penny, was committed to tuition and textbooks. Moving was not really an option though his Greenpoint apartment in Brooklyn was so small that, if he accidentally knocked over a bottle of mineral water, it might flood.  In all likelihood, he would be out on the street by mid-March, the dreaded Ides. And then there was cruel April.

He’d been planning to spend the weekend studying for Monday’s economics test when he was interrupted by a call from Janis Shokovich, who ran Hi Society, a cross between a temp agency and a P.R. firm which specialized in odd assignments – personal shoppers, apartment sitters, assistants – for the well-heeled. She prided herself on having on hand a stable of the city’s most “appealing” (air quotes not optional) young men and women easy on the eyes with an aura of good breeding. She was impressed that Darby came from old money. What he didn’t mention to her was that there was no new money since his parents had poured most of the old money down a shot glass.

Darby had first heard of Janis after some dubious flatterers suggested he pursue modeling. But he was dismissed by a top agency because his face was more a freehand pencil sketch than a completed drawing. But the agent who delivered this damning criticism slipped him Janis’ card. She was a petite poodle-frizzed blonde who ran her business out of a snug one-bedroom on the upper East Side. She bore almond eyes, the hallmark of one too many encounters with a scalpel and paring knife. Though unmistakably a native New Yorker, her speech frequently lapsed into pseudo-British phrases like “other side of the pond.”

The modeling agent had been right: Darby was Janis’ type. To date, the only assignment she had come up with was as a walker for an octogenarian dowager who was going to the Met to see La Forza del Destino. In addition to paying for the rental of his tux, the old woman had tipped him with a folded-over twenty as if he was a maître d’ and she wanted a table by the window. But that was six months ago. Now Janis was on the phone to him.

“Bet you thought I’d forgotten about you, dearie,” she said. The assignment sounded easy enough: checking a “major media mogul” into the Hesperia Grand Hotel. The nabob’s name was Jace Wagner and she said he was gay. “But not for publication. Which reminds me, you have to sign a confidentiality agreement.”

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Speck Script

by Diane Haithman

A very big TV/film fan hitchhikes to Hollywood in search of something – or someone. 2,408 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


On behalf of my home planet, I’d like to welcome myself to Hollywood.

I hail from Mars. I know for decades you’ve been searching for signs of life up there on the fourth rock from the sun. We were so flattered in 2012 when you sent up that cute Mars Rover Curiosity that’s still zipping around our Gale Crater like a little golf cart. We love each and every orbiter and all those nifty NASA-type gadgets. When that stuff shows up, well, it’s just like Christmas here!

You’ve explored Mars — but you still haven’t found us. Don’t blame yourselves. We’re smaller than anything you can detect even with your most sophisticated ultra-microscope. You can take home all the digital photos, rocks and space-dirt you want— you won’t see us. No, you’re not stupid. It’s not your fault. We’re just real small, that’s all.

Okay I like you humans. You’re funny. So I’m going to share a little secret: You can see us, in a way. We are the red on the Red Planet. All of us, together: our very existence radiating a beautiful warm glow into space for the whole galaxy to share, shifting from tangerine to blood orange to terra cotta brick depending on our mood. That’s us.

We would have done purple when Prince died if we could.

But I digress. My Earth pop culture reference to The Purple One reminds me of the story I wanted to tell you as my first direct communication with Earth. About how I came to Hollywood, and why I must stay. I must stay for as long as it takes.

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Celebreality

by Mark Jonathan Harris

A down-on-his-luck social message documentary filmmaker is asked to work on a Reality TV show. 2,323 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


The phone jarred Michael awake at 6:18 am. It was Eva, his sister and self-appointed agent, calling from her Audi on her way to the gym.

“You couldn’t wait until you finished your workout?” he said groggily.

“Today at 11,” she reminded him. “I sent them over your teen hooker piece and they love it. They’re eager to meet you. Now don’t screw it up.”

“I’ll be on my best behavior,” he mumbled.

“Don’t you dare embarrass me.”

“I didn’t know that was possible.”

“You’re such an asshole,” she said and hung up.

Michael got out of bed and brewed some coffee. He knew he should be grateful for Eva’s attempts to get him work, but reality TV? He had become a documentary filmmaker to make the world a better place, not to contribute to its degradation like his sister, who represented many of the worst offenders of the genre. “Reality TV,” she once told him, “is the 21st Century equivalent of the gladiatorial arena. The Romans loved it and so do we. It’s human nature. We glorify the strong and want to kick the weak.”

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The Invasion
Part Two

by Robert W. Welkos

Nothing in showbiz ever goes as planned, especially when Orson Welles is involved. 2,833 words. Part One. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


New York City — October 25, 1938

Orson Welles’ baritone voice caused the half-empty gin bottles to vibrate against the mirrors in the St. Regis hotel bar where he was a regular. “Hey, Mike, a martini for Miss… What was your name, again, my lovely?“ he asked the beautiful redhead seated next to him.

“Dalrymple, silly,” she replied, pretending to slap his cheek.

“Miss Dalrymple Silly!” Orson repeated to the bartender. “And two olives, Mike… one for the lass and one for the scurvy rat nibbling on your shoelace.”

The reed-thin bartender in bow-tie and checkered vest looked offended. “We ain’t got no rats in here, bud. I know ‘cause I clean up every morning.” He plucked the menu out of Welles’ hand, “And no more double steak dinners and pistachio ice cream until you pay your bill.”

Welles smirked and returned his undivided attention to the swirl of ginger at his side. He stared at her fair features and emerald eyes. The redhead placed a finger on her chin. “I haven’t seen a Martian that I know of, hon… Although I have an uncle who is friends with some blind Venetians. I mean, he makes Venetian blinds.”

Welles titled his head back and roared with laughter. “Excellent! I knew you’d be fun! A gorgeous actress with wit. You don’t find too many of those prowling the theater district, my dear.” He lowered his voice. “Now, what do you imagine a Martian would look like?”

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The Invasion
Part One

by Robert W. Welkos

Would the American radio public believe Martians were attacking? Or Nazis? 2,086 words. Part Two. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Berlin, Germany — March 1938

“Ladies and gentlemen… Am I on?… Ladies and gentlemen, this is Peter J. Simons of the Beaumont Global Radio Network. I am looking down Unter den Linden, a major east-west thoroughfare in Berlin. As far as the eye can see, there are German Waffen-SS — a paramilitary force under the command of Heinrich Himmler —marching in a parade. I can hear the trump-trump-trump of their boots as they goose-step in unison holding aloft flags with the familiar Nazi swastika. Crowds line the grand boulevard — men, women and even little children — all thrusting out their arms in a rigid “Heil Hitler” salute. There seems to be some sort of commotion up ahead. Nazi thugs are surrounding a man on the ground and they are slamming his head into the curb. It’s terrible, terrible… I’m being given orders by a Nazi official to leave the area. But I’m an American journalist! And now more violence is breaking out. A woman who came to the man’s defense, her face is covered with blood after she was beaten senseless… Now I know why the Nazis invading the Sudetenland has Americans on edge that they could be invaded, too.”

London — September 30, 1938

Dignified before the gathering of supporters at the airport to greet his return, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain stepped off the plane to cheers and stood in front of the microphone to talk about his meeting with German Chancellor Adoph Hitler. “I believe it is peace for our time.”

A few days later, in the House of Commons, British MP Winston Churchill rose to deliver his response to the Munich Agreement. “Do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”

New York City — July 11, 1938

Orson Welles sat in the dimly-lit bar near the St. Regis Hotel holding an unlit cigar. The 23-year-old actor, director, writer, and producer was celebrating the premiere of the live radio dramas he created, each a weekly hour-long show presenting classic literary works performed by his celebrated Mercury Theatre repertory company.

Naturally, he wasn’t alone. A statuesque blonde, her cheeks freshly rouged, draped an arm around his slumping shoulders and stirred him.

“Tell me,” he asked her, “have you ever seen a Martian?”

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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.

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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.

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Troubador

by Steven Axelrod

TV FICTION PACKAGE: A veteran producer learns from one of his teen contestants. 2,442 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


People have a lot of questions for me lately. How did I come to fire the most powerful law firm in Hollywood? Tear up the contract that governs how most reality competition shows do business? Lose the potential breakout star of my TV singer-songwriter contest Troubador?

The last one is the easiest to explain: Why didn’t I sue Brady James when he gave me and my series the finger and walked away?

He didn’t have a contract.

It started with me watching Crystal Bowersox on season nine of American Idol and thinking — that girl writes her own songs so let’s hear some of them. The idea took shape with Phil Phillips and this latest kid Mackenzie Bourg.  I quickly realized a new show could put everything I loved together in one package. I love music. I love songwriters. And as I’ve proved during a thirty-year career working with all four networks and a couple of cable newbies, I love TV. So why not air a performance contest for singer-songwriters? Forget LaPortia Renae standing up there in the laser show belting out some old Mary J. Blige number. My vision was 1974’s Joni Mitchell standing up with a guitar, no light show or pyrotechnics, and simply singing Big Yellow Taxi. Or Bob Marley performing No Woman No Cry for the first time on my stage. Or – why not, shoot for the stars, Danny! – Bob Dylan, scruffy and unknown, knocking the world on its ass with Mr. Tambourine Man. You’re telling me the world ran out of Joni Mitchells and Bob Marleys and Bob Dylans? Seriously?

Then check out Brady James. I knew he was the genuine article at the first Troubadour audition. And it was a big relief, let me tell you.

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Fastball

by Ann Hamilton

TV FICTION PACKAGE: An agent and writer find an executive in a compromising position. 1,834 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


“She’ll buy it in the room, Kyle,” Chad says as we’re riding up the elevator on our way to the pitch meeting. “Melina Mullen already loves the one-liner.” He looks closer at me. “Did you take a Xanax? I always tell my clients to take a Xanax before they pitch.”

Melina Mullen, the network exec, is tall and blonde and more rounded-body sexy than the usual Jack Skellington-figured Hollywood female. There’s another woman in the office. We’re introduced and I immediately forget her name. She types on her iPad and never looks up.

Melina Mullen says she loved my play. I ask if she saw it in New York and she shakes her head no and tells me, “But I heard great things.” We talk about my first TV writing job on the series Melancholy, an updated version of Hamlet. I say I was super-lucky to have an experience like that with so many talented people, and I learned a lot.

And then there’s a pause. She’s waiting for me to start my pitch. I take a deep breath. And damn, I wish I’d taken a Xanax.

So I’m a playwright in New York, but I moved out to L.A. to work on Melancholy and it aired twice before the network pulled the plug. The reviews were awful and it got hammered in the ratings. More people watched a competing show, Kitty’s Krime, about a talking cat that helped solve mysteries. The showrunner, Logan, was unusually arrogant and mostly insufferable, but he did teach me how a TV series works. Another writer, Brett, was a dick and tried to screw me over, but that was a learning experience, too. After Melancholy was canceled, Logan sold a series to Showtime and Brett the dick got hired as a consulting producer on Kitty’s Krime.

And me? I was toast.

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It Takes Guts

by Ronald Alexander

TV FICTION PACKAGE: A soap opera actor’s father visits at the worst time possible. 3,788 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


As he slathered lotion on his face and scrubbed to remove the morning’s heavy makeup, he couldn’t help imagining what his father might say about a grown man who worried over his appearance. Van blotted with tissues and and began to brush his hair, stiff with spray. He thrust his jaw forward and studied his reflection. He wondered about his weak chin and if that was the reason he was stuck in this network daytime soap opera with no offers for anything better.

"You there, Van?" A soft tap accompanied the meek voice.  It was the new production assistant on As God Is My Witness. "I thought maybe you’d already left to pick up your father. I brought the scripts for next week."

"I was just getting ready to leave," Van said, thumbing the pages. "What betrayals does Alexandra foist on our eternally-dim Dr. Blair Blanton next week?"

"I’d never treat a man the way she does," the assistant replied, averting her eyes, blushing, then turning to make a quick exit.

Van scanned until he found Dr. Blanton’s dialogue, and began to read aloud: "Of course I’m not accusing you, Alexandra. But a colleague mentioned to me at the hospital that he ran into you at Capriccio having dinner with Tony Agnello, when you told me you were playing mahjong with the girls at the club. And you’ve been so outspoken about how arrogant you thought Tony was, always bragging about his airplane and his polo ponies and beach house. You never mentioned any benefit for the homeless that the two of you were co-chairing — "

Van dropped the material on his dressing table with a scowl. No one except for his sister and a few seldom-seen cousins back in Indiana, and the nation’s unemployed, was impressed with the soap or his role. His father thought Van was wasting his life.

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Wasted Talents

by James Dawson

TV FICTION PACKAGE: A wannabe writer seeks help from a college pal who’s now a TV exec. 2,642 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


Michael Thompson wished he had taken his filthy Honda to a car wash at least once during the past six months. He tried consoling himself with the thought that his car’s appearance wouldn’t matter. It was pretty unlikely that Phil Brentlinger would greet him personally in the Everest Studios parking lot or walk him back to his clunker when their meeting was over. But if he did… well, too late to worry about that now.

Choosing what to wear had been another headache. Everything Michael read about TV people said they always dressed casually, sometimes even in t-shirts, jeans and running shoes. But that was after they already had positions, credits and big fat staff salaries. As a complete nobody, Michael didn’t feel comfortable dressing down. He settled on a blue oxford cloth shirt, khaki pants, a navy blazer and a yellow tie. The outfit seemed like a safe choice before he left the house. Now he wondered if he looked like a used-car salesman, or just a dipshit.

Too late to worry about that now, too.

He rehearsed what he would say to Phil, taking both sides of the conversation and talking out loud. He didn’t give a damn if other drivers saw him. This was Hollywood. People here either thought you were an actor or a wacko if they saw you talking to yourself, and neither was regarded as unusual.

"So, Phil, what did you think of the samples I sent you?"

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Greenspan Pitch

by Steven Axelrod

TV FICTION PACKAGE: A TV writer has only one shot to impress or blow the meeting. 3,004 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


"I’d tell you to start writing your Emmy acceptance speech," her agent barked at her over the phone that morning, "but first you have to get the assignment. You have a pilot pitch meeting with Carl Greenspan in an hour. So get over there."

The L.A. skyscraper was perched above Sunset and Doheny and Greenspan had a suite of offices on the top floor, with a prime view of the smog. Rachel expected to see framed one-sheets from Greenspan’s TV shows, but instead an extraordinary series of David Hockey photo collages hung on the beige corridor walls. Greenspan surprised her, too. She’d expected someone small and squinty with designer running shoes and a Lakers cap. But he stood at least six foot three and was wearing a fringed leather jacket and alligator cowboy boots. His blonde hair was an obvious dye job, but it looked good on him. He waved her to the couch, and she was sure the huge mug of coffee he held was going to spill. But he had it under control.

“Come in, sit down, good to meet you.”

Rachel nodded to the floor-to-ceiling windows. “Nice view.”

He bellowed out a nasty laugh. “When you can see it. I know all about you so let me tell you about me. I bankrolled The Coppingers with my own money, every cent I made out of FDNY. When it went into syndication, I got a check for a hundred million dollars. CBS made a billion on that show. Since then I’ve been building homes and suing contractors and I’m sick of it. Retirement sucks. So I’m back. I’ve got a blind put-pilot deal at CBS, a budget through the roof and a punk star with the biggest Q rating on the fucking planet. Rick Haigley. Which brings me to the point.” He gulped the last of his coffee and set the mug down on his giant empty desk. “I want to do a terrorist show – Homeland for network TV, 24 with brains, Sleeper Cell with ratings. They have to use whatever I give them, but crap is all I’m getting. That’s where you come in.”

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Too Much TV

by Diane Haithman

TV FICTION PACKAGE: A PhD researcher may have inadventently killed her pilot deal. 1,932 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


It was like watching Geraldo Rivera attempt the salsa in a Donald Trump wig on Dancing With The Stars. I, Dr. Janet Ling, could not tear my horrified eyes away from the Hollywood news story that might sink my nascent TV career:

LOS ANGELES — Just weeks before 2016’s May network upfront sessions in New York, a joint Caltech-UCLA study is sending shock waves through Hollywood by proving there is too much TV. The document draws a direct causal connection between the volume of TV series programming (the networks tallied 412 scripted series that aired last year) and brush fires, drought, deepening fault lines, traffic congestion, gluten sensitivity, identity theft, arguments with Siri, muffin top, ADHD, man buns, California roll, dog breed names ending in ‘doodle,’ bears in swimming pools and the viral growth of new gastropubs serving craft beers and small plates. “Who knows what will happen next?” said Caltech researcher Don Boswell. The scientific research bears out the ominous words of John Landgraf, president of FX Network, who sparked a heated debate at last summer’s Television Critics Association Press Tour by stating: “There is simply too much television.”

It’s not that I didn’t know. I’m one of the authors of the study.  I’m an associate professor of neurobiology, a promising young researcher at UCLA’s renowned Brain Institute. But seeing our findngs on the front page of the Los Angeles Times still gave me the shivers. I sucked anxiously on my Big Gulp of Red Bull Sugarfree — although if anyone knows the carcinogenic effects of artificial sweeteners, I do. My cat, Higgs Boson, could sense my agitation as he cuddled in my lap.

Was I horrified because, as a responsible scientist, I now feared for the well being of our country? No, I was nervously nibbling Exotic Mango polish off my nails because, while working on the study, I had also been taking a UCLA Extension course in television writing. (Never take these how-to’s in hopes of meeting Mr. Right: all the dweebs who sign up still live with their parents. But I digress).

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Bad Sketch
Part Two

by Ned Dymoke

TV FICTION PACKAGE: The host, producers and writers on a late-night network talk show scramble. Part One. 2,633 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


"We’ve got ‘Dog President,'" said Mitch as soon as the elevator doors opened and Andy appeared. "And half a monologue. And two out of seven writers in the writers room."

"Amy and Kurt are on Wall Street right now doing ‘Shoe Shine Guy,’" said Andy.

"Eric is working out of Arnold’s Coffee because his internet went out. Just his. I think he’s lying," Mitch said angrily. “This is so–"

"Mitch," interrupted Andy, "have you eaten yet?"

"Just a Kit Kat," said Mitch, sheepishly.

"You’re doing that thing you do when you don’t eat. Get yourself something and come back to me in an hour. And take an actual break. Don’t just stand around the hallway gobbling candy bars. That’s creepy. You’ll make the property value of this place go down."

"OK, Andy," said Mitch. He started off towards The Andy Perry Show writer’s room and knocked on the open door. Everybody inside spun around. "Andy’s here, but Amy isn’t," he warned. "Send Andy what you have. We’re going commando and emailing Andy the jokes ourselves. "

"We’re not wearing underwear?" said Eric, rounding the corner beside Mitch and entering the room. Eric was attractive in a way that writers never were and used it to his full advantage.

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Bad Sketch
Part One

by Ned Dymoke

TV FICTION PACKAGE: More from behind-the-scenes of The Andy Perry Show host, producers and writers. Part Two. 2,950 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


It was about noon when Kurt, his feet propped up on his desk, was to have his world shattered. He hadn’t dressed for the occasion, as people whose worlds are about the be shattered are not often dressed appropriately. He was wearing a cardigan that he thought made him look "masculine, but not too masculine," as he’d told the sales clerk at J. Crew earlier that month. He had also bought several checkered shirts, as many young urban professionals of his age and tax bracket frequently do. They made him look approachable and casual, but not too casual, and not too approachable.

Kurt felt very dapper. He leaned back in his chair, riding the crystal clear wave of sartorial confidence all the way to the shores of true relaxation. His was a life that others envied, he thought. He wrote for The Andy Perry Show and lived down the street from the 11th best bagel place in New York. He had an interesting girlfriend who came from a family that had a prodigious amount of old money. Kurt prided himself on the fact that they had sex sometimes more than once a week. They had just adopted an elderly pug. Until that day, Kurt’s life was an avenue of nothing but green lights softly and coquettishly whispering "Go, Kurt. Go."

Kurt felt something bang on his desk. It was Andy’s fist. Kurt was shocked, and nearly spilled his cold-pressed iced coffee all over his J. Crew work shirt and Red Wing boots.

"Did you write ‘Dog President’?" demanded Andy. He had his arms crossed on his chest and smelled faintly like really good chicken.

"Uh. Yeah," said Kurt as he tepidly pled responsibility for his magnum opus and immediately felt his face flush from embarrassment.

"Get your coat," said Andy, "And come with me."

The entire writer’s room became deathly silent.

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Dane-ish

by Ann Hamilton

TV FICTION PACKAGE: Kyle finds murder most foul among network primetime series writers. 2,454 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


I’m a playwright, I live in New York. What do I know about TV? I watch news and sports (go Mets!). Drama? A couple cable shows, GOT, Billions. Not a lot of network stuff – it’s all the same. I had a play produced last year at a small-ish theatre with some nice reviews. A brief couple of weeks where “Kyle Greene is a bright shining light.”  You know, bullshit like that. But, hey, I’ll take it.

So this little window appears where I’m hot. They’re looking at playwrights to write for a new TV series. My agent tells me the creator and executive producer of the show won’t read traditional TV people because they’re “hacks” and he wants “fresh” and “out of the box.” And, yeah, I hate air quotes and when I meet the creator/exec producer, Logan, you can practically see the air quotes when he’s talking.

Logan is in New York for a couple days and could we have coffee? So I suggest a place, and the first thing he says is how thank God we’re not at Starbucks because Starbucks “is the end of civilization as we know it.” And he orders a grande vanilla latte extra foam and I know he’s a poseur. That and the scarf around his neck. I can tell he’s practiced in the mirror until he got it exactly right.

But he seems nice. Nice-ish. Talks about graduating from film school at USC, Sundance, his girlfriend Theodosia (“great rack”), how his primetime series is going to “re-invent network television” and “nothing like it has ever been done before.”

Whatever. The money is ridiculous. I get to live in L.A. for four months while my agent promises to hook me up with other development opportunities. So what if Logan’s brilliant idea isn’t exactly brilliant or original? He has an order for twelve episodes from a major network.

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