Step 1: Selling a pilot (and you didn’t hear it from me)
by Dave Addison
First off, I’m not Dave Addison. I’ve changed most of the names here to protect the innocent – namely my career as a television writer. This town is small and I can’t bite the hand that feeds me. Or at least pays for half my kid’s college tuition. (The other half is paid for by my ex — which is like pulling teeth – don’t get me started.) So this story is being written with the understanding that I deny ever having written it.
That said, I have been writing sitcoms for over twenty-five years on shows you’ve all watched. I’ve won an Emmy, a Peabody, a People’s Choice Award – I’ve even won a Razzie, which actually isn’t a good thing. It’s an award for the worst film of the year. I can’t tell you the name of that train wreck but it rhymes with The Clintstones.
I have sold many, many pilots in my day but only one has ever been produced. It starred a cute fifteen-year-old boy with big dreams, a mop of brown hair, crystal blue eyes and a little space between his front teeth. His name was Zac Efron. The network thought he was talentless so it never got a series pick up. Zac was heartbroken and I quietly assured him he was talented and meant for something bigger than a kid’s cable show. I can’t tell you the name of the network but it rhythms with Schmizby Flannel. (Boy, am I good at this covert thing or what?) Anyway, my pilot died, Zac got veneers and I’ve never spoken to him since.
Most of the pilots I’ve sold have been based on events in my life because it makes them unusual and original. Now here’s the problem with that.
Selling a pilot based on something personal is a bit like going out on a windy day without any underwear. Ultimately, others get to see a part of you that you wished they hadn’t.
And Hollywood can be very judgmental (duh) so sometimes it’s better to simply sell something that means absolutely nothing to you except a paycheck.
And that’s exactly what I did this past December when a producer friend of mine named Dray came to me with some talent – two 10-year-old blonde identical twin girls from Texas. They were painfully adorable and like every kid in America – eager to have their own show. (Or at least their mother was eager, they were busy texting their friends that they just saw the guy from Shark Tank during our brunch at Shutters.)
When dealing with twins, I always listen to Dray. She knows a golden goose (geese) when she sees it having exec produced several twin mega-hits such as The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Sister, Sister with Tia and Tamera Mowry. By the end of the brunch, she had convinced me to come aboard and create a pilot for these girls.
So, I came up with a great idea that was so awesome, even my kids were impressed and they hate everything except Dr. Who. Dray and I went to the network, I pitched the hell out of it, and a week later my agent called with the good news. I can’t tell you the name of the studio that bought it, but it rhymes with Pickaschmodeon. The same people who brought you iSnarley.
So, now I have a pilot to write. And I’ve decided to drag you poor people through this hideously fabulous process with me. You’ve been warned. Enjoy!Tags: Dave Addison, Entertainment industry, Hollywood, Kids entertainment, Selling a television pilot, Sitcom writer, Television, Twins, Zac Efron