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Television

Twelve Days of Scriptnotes

In this very special episode from 2014, Craig and John welcome special guests Aline Brosh McKenna, Rachel Bloom, B.J. Novak, Jane Espenson and Derek Haas to talk about writing books, movies and especially television.

New and Old Hollywood

With credits ranging from Captain Phillips to The Hunger Games, plus several stints in WGA contract negotiations, Billy Ray knows as much as any screenwriter about the realities of working writers and the turmoil in the industry. He joins us to talk about his new Amazon pilot, The Last Tycoon, which charts the behind-the-scenes drama at a 1930s Hollywood studio.

Television Economics for Dummies

Jonathan Groff — the Black-ish writer/producer, not the actor — joins John and Craig to explain the new vocabulary of television and why companies are all about ownership.

An Alliance with House Mazin

It’s a craft episode, with Craig and John discussing allies and allegiances in film and television. Enemies are easy; friends are difficult. We talk through the types relationships characters find themselves in, and strategies for making the most of them.

They Won’t Even Read You

John and Craig look at how the push to increase diversity in TV writing rooms impacts writers looking to staff for the first time.

How to Introduce Characters

John talks with Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, co-creators of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, about how they pitched and wrote their critically-acclaimed show.

No More Milk Money

Craig and John welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to discuss what she learned going from writing features to show-running Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — and what’s waiting for her back in movie-land. The three of us came into the business at the height of the spec market, but everything is different now.

David Mamet and the producer pass

In an episode consisting entirely of answers to listener questions, John and Craig discuss David Mamet, internet trolls, post-credit scenes and English actors attempting American accents. Plus, who would win in an all-out brawl to the death? The answer will probably not surprise you. Links: David Mamet’s memo to writers of The Unit Craig’s Twitter […]

The one with Jason Bateman and the Game of Thrones guys

With a live audience in downtown Los Angeles, Craig and John welcome actor/director Jason Bateman to discuss what he looks for when considering a script, and how to best work with a writer on a script.

Scriptnotes Holiday Show 2015

John and Craig welcome special guests Malcolm Spellman, Natasha Leggero, Riki Lindhome and Alan Yang to the third annual Scriptnotes Holiday show, recorded live on December 9th, 2015 in Hollywood.

The One Where Aline’s Show Debuts

Aline Brosh McKenna joins us to talk through the launch of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and what she’s learned since she introduced us to the show nearly a year ago. Brian Lowry of Variety raves that it is “one of the fall’s most promising hours.” We’re not surprised at all.

Features are different

John and Craig look at how writing feature films is fundamentally different than writing television, and how that difference begins at the point of story inception. It’s not just that movies are longer; they’re also built to be unique events, with characters embarking on once-in-a-lifetime journeys. We discuss how to decide whether an idea is better suited for features or series, and lessons learned from properties that have existed in both worlds.

How descriptive narration gets written

On this week’s episode of Scriptnotes, I asked whether listeners had any experience with how descriptive narration for the blind was written, and whether those writers consulted the screenplay. Several listeners quickly pointed me to WGBH, and this FAQ.

The One with Alec Berg

Craig sits down with Silicon Valley writer/director Alec Berg to talk about set ups and payoffs, editing comedy and how writing teams get screwed.

How to Get Staffed on a TV show

Gina Ippolito writes about how she got staffed on her first TV show.

The 200th Episode Live Show

Craig, John, and Aline record the 200th episode of Scriptnotes live with a worldwide audience listening in — and chiming in — as they discuss TV showrunning and whether quality really counts at the box office.

The long and short of it

John and Craig dig into the listener mailbag and take questions on TV producer credits, jealousy over other writers’ success, writing tight vs writing long and plenty of other follow up.

Hardy Boys, in outline form

It’s fascinating to look at something so old yet so familiar. Most modern televison writing goes through an outline stage, at which point the studio and network signs off on the story — or sends it back with notes.

Malcolm Spellman, a Study in Heat

Screenwriter Malcolm Spellman joins Craig and John to talk about his big break, blown opportunities, and getting momentum back. Now part of the smash hit Empire, he talks about the changes and challenges African-American writers face both on the small screen and the big screen.

The One with Rebel Wilson and Dan Savage

John and Craig discuss exploding scripts and stock scenes. Then in the second half of the show, we welcome two very special guests.

Twelve Days of Scriptnotes

Craig and John welcome special guests Aline Brosh McKenna, Rachel Bloom, B.J. Novak, Jane Espenson and Derek Haas to talk about writing books, movies and especially television.

Austin Forever

John and guest host Susannah Grant sit down with Richard Kelly, Cary Fukunaga, Peter Gould, Dan Sterling and Mike Birbiglia to discuss the role of a writer/director, the wonder of television, and the purpose of table reads.

Texting in film and television

Craig and I may have taken umbrage at his video about comedy directors who aren’t Edgar Wright, but Tony Zhou’s newest video looking at how filmmakers handle texting and the internet on-screen is all good. Zhou’s underlying point is that we still haven’t settled on conventions for showing texting or the internet. And that’s good! […]

Yes, screenwriting is actually writing

Craig and John take a swing at several of the week’s hyperbolic headlines, from conflict-free comedy to Fitzgerald’s failures to Strong Female Characters with nothing to do. In each case, there’s a valid idea lurking beneath the overstated claim, but it’s important to separate good examples from bad.

Q&A from the Superhero Spectacular

Craig and John, along with their talented panelists, answer questions from the audience at the May 15, 2014 live show.