Beware, Network Execs: Here's What TV Writers Really Mean in Meetings

5:00 AM PST 05/16/2014 by THR Staff

They might be polite to your face, but don't expect writers to do what they say — or say what they mean. THR asked a handful of executives to decode the language of a pitch.

This story first appeared in the May 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Writer: "A Liz Lemon type."

Really means: "Bumbling, klutzy woman who doesn't have it all but isn't nearly as sharply written as Tina Fey's character."

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Writer: "That's an interesting idea, let us try it and see how it works."

Really means: "We hate that idea but will pretend to give it a try because you determine my next year of work."

Writer: "We did 90 percent of the notes and feel really good about this 'draft.'" 

Really means: "We did 20 percent of the notes and dare you to try to get us to do more."

Writer: "I like a lot of these notes."

Really means: "I think most of these notes are terrible and unintelligent, but I can make at least one of them work."

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Writer: "This character is our eyes into the world.

Really means: "A bland shell of a character that isn't necessary to the show but you are going to force me to put into the pilot later when the audience doesn't relate to anyone, so I'm just adding it now."

Writer: "A Tracy Flick type."

Really means: "An uptight, unlikable female character played by a pretty blonde."

Writer: "The lead is a young, idealistic writer."

Really means: "The lead is a thinly veiled stand-in for me."

Writer: "A Paul Rudd type."

Really means: "We haven't thought through this character at all."

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Writer: "It's a Downtown Abbey-like setup."

Really means: ""It's a derivative take on an upstairs-downstairs setting."

Writer: "We're never doing that."

Really means: "We'll look at that."

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