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'Cougar Town' Boss Bill Lawrence Reveals How to Pitch a TV Show

Bill Lawrence
Bill Lawrence

The "Scrubs" creator offers producers and writers some inside tips on how to successfully get a show sold.

This story first appeared in the Nov. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

It comes down to confidence. half the battle is selling yourself as a creator of a show.

You're not just going, "Hey, I've got a really funny idea that I wrote on a napkin"; you're saying, "I'm super-passionate about this; I can execute it week after week; this is why I think it goes beyond just a two-line idea."

The more detailed you get, the more things there are for people to dislike. You name your character Danny, and maybe someone in the room got screwed over by a guy named Danny in high school. So I like to go in and say what I think makes the show interesting and who the main characters are, and then I follow up with true stories that illustrate the dynamics I expect to be in the show. People really respond if some of the stories are at least partially based in truth.

There are always going to be a few disasters. One of the people I pitched Scrubs to before NBC actually fell asleep as I was pitching it. You can't take it personally. And you have to get out of there with a smile because you're going to be back trying to sell another idea to those people before you know it.

Oh, and if you have a good title, pitch it. And if you have a really corny title like Cougar Town, be careful about pitching it because it'll be your title forever.

Bill Lawrence is a creator of Scrubs and Cougar Town. He has sold three network projects this development season.