Wednesday, January 18th
Tuesday, January 17th
Get this, Dear Readers. Jake in Progress has sprung back to life!! It’s a miracle! ABC has decided to let us complete our order of 13 eps, holding them to run at some later time when a better timeslot becomes available. This is, believe it or not, a very good thing. The bad thing would have been if they’d aired a few more, sort of unpromoted and unannounced, paired with some random other show at a strange time, then pulled us quickly when we failed to perform. What is happening instead is actually a pretty hearty vote of confidence. At least in the world of television it is, in which anything that is not active desperation is called confidence. (Note that the reverse is also true.) Gotta say, it’s pretty menschy of ABC to let us finish the thirteen. It certainly preserves our chance of becoming a sophomore hit. It’s like we’re the main character in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, you know? Getting a second chance at youth and beauty and love.
People ask me all the time about how a show is written. How does a staff of writers work together to create episodes that link together to create a season? Well, it’s not pretty. Even when a staff is incredibly experienced, and the episodes flow into each other with a surprising inevitability, and the jokes are precise illuminations of characters, there are miles of chaotic process behind it. What you don’t see at home are all the false paths. For every story turn, and for every joke, there are tiny threads that connect to the story turn not taken, the joke that was pitched, or written, and then replaced. (I'm gonna give you examples and some handy tips for joke-writing in later posts, but right now I feel more poetical than practical.)
You also don’t see the passion – hear the raised voices in the room (not angry, but genuinely emotional). What I am forever impressed by is the degree to which very experienced writers will care, passionately, about one specific moment, one word in one joke in a headpiece to a scene that will probably be cut for length anyway. I love this! Sometimes it’s a firm belief that something must be removed, but more often it’s an insistence that something be kept. And this is not about saving ones reputation. The link between the “written by” credit and any one particular joke in a half-hour script is chancy at best. I think, instead, this is about a moment that strikes a writer as golden. As having the sparkle of the best jokes of the best shows that they remember laughing at before they were in the business. How lovely is that? Pretty lovely. Maybe we're all writing for the 15-year-old us.
Today’s lunch: Ribs! Meaty and slathered with sauce! Also: baked beans and a crisp Caesar salad. Delish!
Jane on 01.18.06 @ 01:52 PM PST [link]
Monday, January 16th
Hi again! This is the second entry, if you're keeping score at home.
I'm at work. The hottest news is that our lead-in "Emily's Reasons Why Not" has been officially given the axe (or ax, either is acceptable) while we have not. This lack of bad news is, of course, good news. Many smiles around the Jake offices. This is the glory of low expectations.
I'm also a big believer in high expectations. Tell people that what they're about to read/see/taste will be wonderful and they'll tend to perceive what they expect to perceive. This is why, every time I turn in a script I proudly announce it's the best thing I've ever written.
Latest lunch: Pork and tofu!
Jane on 01.17.06 @ 03:48 PM PST [link]
Hello everyone! This is the inaugural entry in my brand new blog. Welcome!
If you've found this blog, you probably already know who I am. My claim to semi-fame is that I wrote for Buffy the Vampire Slayer for five of its seven seasons, leaving only when the show came to an end. The episodes I wrote included "Band Candy," "Harsh Light of Day," "Intervention," "I Was Made to Love You," "Earshot," "Superstar," "Storyteller," "Same Time, Same Place," and others. I also co-wrote "Conversations with Dead People," which won a Hugo Award. Writing for Buffy was unusual among TV writing jobs, in that it actually results in writers -- not just performers -- having fans. This is, I must say, lovely. It also resulted in other work, including writing assignments on Angel and Firefly, and a lot of comic book writing, which I have enjoyed a great deal. Joss Whedon changed my life and is every inch the genius you suspect he is.
Since Buffy, I've done a variety of different kinds of writing: more sci-fi, on Tru Calling, hour-long comedy on Gilmore Girls, procedural writing on The Inside, and now half-hour comedy on Jake in Progress. My goal is to stick my nose into every bowl in the buffet, tasting every flavor they've got.
So right now, I'm on Jake in Progress. Here's the latest. We had a table reading of a script that I wrote a couple days ago. Lori Laughlin is going to play the part of John Stamos' love interest in this one, and OHMIGOD, she's fantastic. It was a really tricky role and she nailed every moment of it. I hope the series stays around long enough for you guys to see this episode, because -- amusingly -- it's got a bit of a Buffy flavor to it. Can you believe we're doing an alt-universe episode? I was so delighted, you can't imagine. Anyway, I love how it turned out, and if the show survives long enough, I'll let you know when it's going to air.
Our offices for Jake are at Fox studios in Century City. A few weeks ago there was a lot of noise and teamster-style shouting outside our writers' room. Turned out, it was burly men taking down all of the Arrested Development sets. Terribly sad. Our other neighbors on the lot include Stacked, which shoots very near to our offices, and How I Met Your Mother, which shoots across the lot from us. That means Aly's right there... I should walk over and find her. Such a good woman. One of those comedic actors who's funny even when the camera turns off.
In other news, late last night I hit the "send" button and mailed the newest draft of my latest pilot script off to the appropriate executive. This is the funniest little project, my own personal brainchild and I'm desperately proud of it. Clap your hands if you want to see a half-hour comedy about the lives and loves of Las Vegas showgirls. I know I do. So I wrote one. If it doesn't go, and you still want a really interesting insight into a unique job that may not be around much longer (in my opinion), take the back-stage tour at Bally's Jubilee in Vegas. It's cheap and fascinating. If you watched E!'s reality series "Nearly Famous," you already know what I'm talking about. Great stuff!
In conclusion, you were promised you'd hear what I had for lunch. This is will indeed be a regular feature. My Latest Lunch was:
A hot pastrami sandwich!
Thank you. See you soon!
Jane on 01.16.06 @ 12:03 PM PST [link]