Welcome To Tommytown
November 7, 2006 5:03 PM
Below is the first entry of WELCOME TO TOMMYTOWN: Twisted Brain, Twisted Business—a blog that will chronicle the ins, outs, ups, and downs of being an independent producer of youth and family TV:
Two days ago, I took a break writing my current pilot because I had already been hard at work for almost an hour straight, and clearly deserved a breather. After talking to two of my sons about their daily college experience, one of my network executives about a season pickup, and my entire office staff about how procrastination was a bad habit, I decided I needed more time to unwind.
So I picked up a Hollywood trade magazine. And after flipping through the pages, I saw it. A review. Of my new series that premieres this week. It wasn't good. In fact, it made me wonder if I had completely lost any talent I ever had. Then it made me wonder if I actually HAD any talent or if I had just been fooling people for the past 25 years.
Like most independent writer-producers, I felt this 500 word article would bring on the end of my career. We're in a fickle business. No one gets off by resting on their laurels. You're only as good as your last hit.
I of course went on with my day. I of course hated everything I proceeded to write. And when I broke away from the office to pitch a pretty high-profile cable network, I wondered why I was even allowed in the room in the first place.
Even though the pitch went well.
I went home questioning pretty much every choice I ever made in my entire life, and come to the conclusion that—apart from marrying my wife and having my children—everything I did was a mistake. I told my wife we'd most likely have to sell our house, and maybe even our organs, to survive from this point on.
She told me she wasn’t going to listen to this. This wasn't the first time she said that, but I knew, it'd be the first time I was right, and she was wrong. It wasn't easy to fall asleep. FYI: Most paid programming sucks.
I must've eventually fallen asleep, because I woke up when my wife shoved a newspaper in my face. The Great Grey Lady of the East Coast. Which had a glowing review of my show. I immediately realized this reviewer was very bright. And I immediately realized that our show was in fact the very thing I had set out to do when I began my career: make quality programming that illuminates the magic of the human experience, and the magnificence of youth. With a rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop attitude, of course.
Good reviews kept rolling in after that. Twenty-four hours after the Hollywood trade review, instead of packing up my office and laying off my staff, I watched the show two times in a row. And felt proud.
Manic? Totally. Insane? Of course. Large ego, low self-esteem? You bet. I went from very low to very high within one calendar day. I questioned everything, and then questioned why I ever questioned it.
And it made me realize, I'm in this for the long haul. I got into this business to make shows that I would want to see, that my kids would want to see, that their friends would want to see.
Of course, the verdict is still out on the audience. We'll get numbers next week. And I'll either retreat into my shell or allow my staff to crack open champagne for breakfast.
In the meantime, I have to finish this new pilot. I hope it gets shot. I hope it gets picked up to series. In fact, I'd take a bad review if I can just get the real estate on the network.
And the cycle begins, yet again.
Tune in soon for my next rant...