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    October 14th, 2008Jane EspensonComedy, From the Mailbag, On Writing, Pilots

    Now you know, Gentle Readers, that I much prefer to talk about writing tricks — I mean “techniques”– than to give advice about how to get into the business, since I really don’t consider myself an expert on that. However, I just found out about a writers’ program at NBC called Writers On The Verge. The official link to the program can be found
    here

    My understanding is that this program is specifically intended for writers who are inches away from breaking into the business. Here’s what one of the program organizers told me about what they’re offering:


    Basically, it’s our crack at a fellowship. It’s more like the WB or CBS Fellowship than ABC in the sense that it’s only 10 weeks and I can’t afford to pay them for their troubles. Another difference between ours and theirs is that WOTV is two nights a week. Tuesday night is solely dedicated to a writing workshop and Thursday [to a] speaker series and personal development exercises. They [the participants] write a spec to get in, and in the program write a new spec and start an original. It’s really fast paced because we want them ready for staffing.

    We are currently in the 3rd year of the program, and will start accepting applications for next year’s program in May of ’09. To apply, writers must write a spec of a current series, primetime or cable, answer some essays and send in a resume. The link [see above] will be where new info is posted next year.

    Though we’re the newest fellowship, we’ve had a good amount of success so far with 5 of the 8 fellows from last year staffed and all 8 represented. The other three writers have moved up the food chain in some way as well (script coordinator with a freelance, etc…). In fact, NBC just bought a comedy pilot from a team that was in the program last year — so that’s our most exciting news to date.

    Wow. I’ll say — that’s a pretty amazing track record for a fairly new program. And it’s also another good place to use those specs for existing shows, which are otherwise increasingly devalued.

    May might seem like it’s a long way off, but this program clearly sets a high standard and you’re going to want all of that time to get a spec into the kind of shape it’s going to require. If I were you, I’d start working. So let’s hear some typing noises! Good luck!

    Lunch: BBQ chicken and those amazing spicy fries at Ribs USA.

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