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Vancouver Writing Seminar with Larry Kaplow (House, Body of Proof)

Vancouver Writing Seminar with Larry Kaplow (House, Body of Proof)


Before TV, eh?, I wrote about television for other sites. American television (gasp) for American sites. That’s how I learned that I wasn’t learning about homegrown shows and a website was born. At the time I was writing an awful lot about House, so really you could credit an American show created by a Canadian for the existence of this website dedicated to Canadian TV. If you want to ignore a lot of other factors.

My first interview with a TV writer was with Larry Kaplow, who had just written House’s second-season episode “Autopsy,” which went on to win the Writers Guild of America Award for episodic drama. And as one of the House producers he would later be nominated for a few Emmy Awards for best drama. I take all the credit.

He’d also go on to be a friend who allows me insight into the creative process of writing for television, a warts-to-wonders view I hadn’t seen clearly from simply researching and reviewing books on the subject. When he was giving a week-long writing seminar in Kiev, Ukraine recently (after talks at USC, NYU, Duke, Johns Hopkins, and the National Association of Broadcasters, among others), I took advantage of our friendship and his jetlag to ask him to conduct a one-day seminar in Vancouver on May 6. Aimed at aspiring and emerging TV writers, it’s for people who, unlike me, can put his hard-won experience into practice.

“I’ll show people how to do it, how to write for television in the real world,” he told me about the seminar, which will cover topics such as breaking in, pitching, story structure, the writing room, dealing with notes, writing for production, and the development process. “There are a ton of great books out there. Best of luck to you. I only understand them now because I’ve spent the past however many years doing it.”

That however many years started with assistant gigs on Clueless and Chicago Hope before writing for Family Law, Hack, House and Body of Proof as well as developing his own projects.

He explained his glamorous path to show business: “I went to undergrad for English, grad school for creative writing, then wrote a shitty novel and a bunch of scripts that got options, then I got lunch for writers on the lowest-rated show in the business, then a kindly upper-level writer named Marjorie David basically begged David Shore (Canadian) and Stephen Nathan (not Canadian) [editor’s note: but who now works with Hart Hanson (Canadian)] to hire me as a researcher. I worked my ass off for Paul Haggis (Canadian) and I got my first script, and miracles of miracles I’m still here writing.”

“Passion and commitment are everything — because if you’re willing to let things go, then you’re not right for this business. And believe me, this is something I still have to learn.” In fact, he cites the most important thing he’s learned over his career as “I’m here to learn.” (He’s also here to teach; he’ll be giving a couple of class talks at local schools while he’s in Vancouver.)

“If it’s what you want to do, don’t give up. That ‘if’ isn’t a small thing. If it’s REALLY what you want to do, you won’t care who you are in the business, because the business is telling stories. And if you can be a part of that in any way, how cool is that? I never thought I was going to write TV. Never. And yet here I am, courtesy of kindly giants — several of them Canadian.”

As for what he wants to get out of his time in Vancouver, that would be “to meet the mad and interesting, of course. Is there anything else?” With these Stanley Cup finals we’ve got mad covered, no question. So come on Vancouver, let’s bring the interesting.

For more information and to register:

Star John Ralston Sells Living In Your Car With Optimism

Star John Ralston Sells Living In Your Car With Optimism

I’m not sold on the series, but John Ralston actually made me appreciate it more.

Love and Medicine Tangle in Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

Love and Medicine Tangle in Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

I interviewed Mayko Nguyen and Byron Mann of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures:

  • Love and Medicine Tangle in Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
    “HBO Canada’s latest series, debuting tonight, brings with it a built-in audience. Adapted by Jason Sherman from Vincent Lam’s bestselling, Giller-winning book of interconnected short stories, the television version of Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures also brings with it inevitable comparisons. The verdict? It’s not the book. But it’s compelling TV.” Read more.
Interview: Cra$h & Burn’s Caroline Cave

Interview: Cra$h & Burn’s Caroline Cave

I interviewed actress Caroline Cave from the upcoming Cra$h & Burn and the current Saw VI:

  • Interview: Cra$h & Burn’s Caroline Cave
    “Luke Kirby’s Jimmy Burn is clearly the title character of Cra$h & Burn, premiering Wednesday on Showcase. Catherine Scott, played by Vancouver actress Caroline Cave, may just be the Crash. ‘It was a clever spin,’ she says of the Toronto Star article that so labelled her. ‘I had failed to see it so directly, but it’s actually true. We see her in the middle of a divorce, with a demotion in her career. She’s sleeping around a lot, she’s drinking a lot. We meet her on her descent, whereas Jimmy’s on his way climbing up and out.'” Read more.

Emmy outrage

The Emmy time-shifting controversy grew after I posted my initial rant. Over 150 showrunners/executive producers signed a petition, the Writers and Directors Guilds are accusing the Academy of breaking their agreement, and an Emmy producer was obnoxious at the TCA press tour. This post has reactions from Hart Hanson (Bones), Lawrence Kaplow (House), and Anonymous Writer, as well as the previous ones from Jeff Greenstein (Parenthood) and Adam Barken (Flashpoint):

  • TV Writers Protest Emmy Changes
    “I’ve always dreamed of winning an Emmy,” the anonymous writer commented. “And now I’m on a show that could actually win, and the trophy looks golden, but I know deep down she’s a ****.” Read more.

Yeah, I hated censoring but a) Blogcritics wouldn’t have printed it and b) it’s my least favourite word ever. But a great quote.

Interview: Andrew Airlie of Defying Gravity

Interview: Andrew Airlie of Defying Gravity

I write nothing for Blogcritics for 3 months, then 4 in a week. My latest is an interview with Canadian actor Andrew Airlie (Intelligence, Reaper):

  • Interview: Andrew Airlie of Defying Gravity
    “I don’t think they went into it with the idea, ‘OK, let’s find something that will satisfy the sci-fi and the Grey’s crowd,'” Airlie explained, pointing out the inspiration for the show was the BBC pseudo-documentary Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets. “They found the source material interesting on its own, and they dramatized it and boosted the production value.” Read more.