Every week on Scriptnotes, Craig and I do our One Cool Things, through which we each recommend something worth checking out. Then on Twitter, I’ll link to things I think my followers may find interesting or useful.

But there’s a problem: neither venue is particularly well-suited to the task of collecting and presenting the cool stuff that’s out there.

If you don’t listen to the podcast, you won’t hear it. If you don’t follow me on Twitter — or if the algorithm doesn’t show you the tweet — you won’t see it. And I’m always hesitant to link to too much, because Twitter is overwhelming enough as it is.

So I’m trying something new: a little newsletter called Inneresting.

newsletter screenshot

It’s a weekly-ish roundup of stuff I’ve found interesting. There are some bits about writing and language, but the unifying theme is just that I’ve found these things worth pointing out.

Isn’t that what this blog is for? you ask. Well, sort of. Each newsletter could easily be a post on the site. But in order to read it, you’d have to think, huh I wonder if there’s a new post? and then click over to For a while, I ran a side blog called Off-Topic that was a similar idea, but how would a reader know when to check it?

Inneresting simply shows up in your email inbox. Read it whenever. I’ve turned off the creepy analytics. There are no trackers or data collectors other than occasional Amazon affiliate links. Basically, I know if you’ve subscribed and if you’re still opening the email. If you’re not, I’ll stop sending it.

Check out the first issue, and subscribe if you like it.

  1. Or if you’re like me, you subscribe to the site’s feed through RSS. Congratulations! You’re one of the fraction of a percent of internet users who do that. Luckily, the newsletter has a feed as well.

Advice for a New Staff Writer

Scriptnotes: Ep. 368

John welcomes Alison McDonald (American Dad!, Nurse Jackie, the remake of Roots) and Ryan Knighton (In the Dark) to talk through the basics of the TV writers room, covering how they got in, how much to talk, how to make a living, what to wear and what’s for lunch.

In follow up, we look at disappearing digital purchases and the further fallout from Les Moonves.

We have new Scriptnotes T-shirts available — Colored Revisions! Thanks to Alison, Ryan now knows about magenta.


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You can download the episode here.

You can’t have my back and yours at the same time

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Rebecca Sun and Jonathan Handel look at the controversy over agencies investing in TV and movies:

“The headline is that it’s bad for creators,” declares The Good Fight co-creator Robert King, who, notably, is a client of Paradigm, one of the agencies not moving into ownership (yet). “This is a black-and- white situation where agencies should not be a boss to clients.”

Even some agents are puzzled: “Who are you representing? Do you have [the writer’s] back or your back?” says Verve co-founder and partner Bryan Besser. “How do you have both backs?”

The article is one of the first I’ve read that gets agents on the record, but either the journalists didn’t ask or couldn’t get an answer to Besser’s fundamental question: How can agencies defend the conflict of interest inherent in employing their own clients?

The closest anyone gets to addressing the issue comes as simple whataboutism:

Agencies say they remain mystified as to why the WGA is beating up on them when talent management firms — an adjacent business — have been free to produce and own content for decades.

Officer, why is it a problem for us to run red lights when ambulances have been doing it forever?

Agents and managers aren’t the same thing, and agents know it. Agencies are defined under California law, with specific restrictions on what they can do and how much they can charge. They’re supposed to have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. That means putting the interests of their clients before their own interests.

If we can’t expect that from our agents, we need better agents.

If they can’t earn enough off of 10% of our income, they should focus on getting us paid more.

One Year Later

Scriptnotes: Ep. 367

Aline Brosh McKenna joins John and Craig to discuss the progress made in the year following the Weinstein revelations. Have the systems for reporting and preventing sexual harassment improved, or are we still just dealing with hurricanes?

We also follow up on The Academy’s decision to nix the Popular Film category, the IATSE agreement, missing movies, and Craig’s distaste for ventriloquism. And Final Draft teaches us that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.


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You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 9-19-18: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

WGA Elections 2018

Scriptnotes: Ep. Extra

John and Craig discuss their choices for WGA Board Elections and misinformation about proposed revisions to the Screen Credits Manual.


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You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 9-18-18: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

How murky rights keep movies in limbo

Following up on my conversation with Kate Hagen about why I can’t legally stream The Flamingo Kid and many other films, listener Matt wrote in with some helpful insight into the hurdles for re-releasing old titles:

Happy to hear you talk about digital distribution. I worked on that side of the industry for a major cable network for several years. Wanted to share some insight on the day-to-day realities of releasing catalog titles on the EST/DTO platforms (that’s electronic sell-through and download-to-own [interchangeable terms], and iTunes/Amazon/Google Play/Vudu, etc.).

I worked in TV, but I’d guess that a lot of what I experienced applies to film as well. My sense is that most movies or TV episodes still not available on digital platforms have some issue holding them back.

The decision to release these older titles all comes down to risk, and it rarely makes sense on an individual title basis to take the risk. The risk is either financial (spending money to clear a song or a piece of stock footage) or legal (when there’s an unclear chain-of-title, either for an entire TV series/movie or for licensed media within an episode or movie).

In my experience, new release titles drove nearly all of our team’s revenue, with catalog episodes bringing in comparatively little. So on a case-by-case basis, it’s very difficult for digital distribution teams to make the argument to their superiors that it’s worth spending money, sometimes a lot of money, to license music for home media use, or to release an episode or movie with an unclear chain-of-title and hope no one comes out of the woodwork with a lawsuit claiming they hold its distribution rights.

Older movies or TV episodes may only bring in a few hundred dollars a year to the studio or network, when new releases are making millions. Frankly, if you go to your Senior VP asking permission to spend $30,000 to clear a song so you can release a 25-year-old TV episode that’s projected to make $40 in a year, you’re an idiot. It’s much easier for everyone involved to not bother with the mess of issues surrounding some of these movies and shows, and instead to just let the money roll in from new releases.

From my experience, I think the only way we get every TV show and movie released digitally is if high-ranking executives at networks and studios decide it’s worth it in the long run to have full distribution rights to their entire libraries, and take a one-time financial hit to clear many episodes and movies at the same time. The cost/benefit rarely makes sense one at a time, but it would likely be worth the cost for networks and studios to have complete libraries of content they can license over and over again to different streaming services.