Who Am I?
When first I showed up in L.A. with ambition but no clue about screenwriting, I talked my way into a job as a Story Analyst at a major studio. My first reader report was as dense as an English major’s book report, but the Story Editor there saw I was no dummy, had drive, and he was kind enough to school me on the Studio’s need, above all, for brevity.
I soon got the hang of it. I got very busy analyzing screenplays for a range of major studios including TRI-STAR, COLUMBIA, SONY, FOX, PARAMOUNT, MGM & TNT, and respected Industry heavyweights, a list of “Who’s Who”, including Stacey Snider, David Geffen, Mike Medavoy, Sir Howard Stringer, Jeff Sagansky, Christopher Lee, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Marc Platt, Gail Ann Hurd, Barbara Boyle, and Bridget Johnson. Hitters, all.
I got good and fast. Paying the rent depended on it. Reading is an entry-level gig dating back to when literate smartypants were hired as eyes and ears for the immigrant founders of Hollywood who were not at all fluent in English. Now that few actually take the time to read, and given the sheer volume of submissions, much of it bad, the tradition lives on. Powerful shot-callers in the Industry rely on lowly and underpaid readers to this day. In my stint as a reader, I estimate that I read and covered over 2,000 scripts. Many were horrible, some I recall to this day. After a while, you learn to see the patterns of good and bad storytelling.
Reading is how I cut my teeth, it’s how I learned the craft, if only by negative example.
Hungry for credits of my own, gaining confidence in my chops, I established a boutique Research/Story Consulting shop, thrilled to be working (although anonymously) on a wide range of projects with A-list writing and producing talent including Oscar nominated HILARY HENKIN (WAG THE DOG, ROMEO IS BLEEDING; the original V FOR VENDETTA); the late MICHAEL FRANCE (GOLDENEYE, CLIFFHANGER, FANTASTIC FOUR, THE HULK); CAROL MENDELSOHN, (Executive Producer MELROSE PLACE, CSI), including a stint on Carol’s ill-fated FROGMEN, starring O.J. Simpson (pre-criminal career!); Executive Producer BOB DeLAURENTIS (THE O.C., PROVIDENCE, SOUTH BEACH, and TV’s FARGO;); Executive Producer/Writer JACQUELINE ZAMBRANO (IN THE MIX starring USHER, among a host of other credits); legacy billion dollar producer JOEL SILVER; KONSTANTIN FILM; the ERNEST film series for Disney, and writer ED NAHA (HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS).
My hard-fought and never-to-be-forgotten first credit came writing on LA FAMIGLIA, a pre-SOPRANOS Mafia mini-series at NBC which, for the time, was too hot-blooded to be aired. My journey through the ranks as a TV “hyphenate” (writer-producer) included Story Editor on the CBS/Warner Bros. female-driven cop ensemble UNDER SUSPICION—a female-driven procedural long before its time; Co-Producer for the USA Network’s sexy adaptation of the feature THE BIG EASY, shot on location in New Orleans; Producer on Paramount’s sci fi cop action adventure series, THE SENTINEL, created by Danny Bilson (Rachel’s dad!) & Paul DeMeo (ROCKETEER, VIPER); Producer on CBS’s Marine fighter-pilot drama, PENSACOLA: WINGS OF GOLD starring James Brolin; writer on the original cable television legal series JUST CAUSE starring Richard Thomas; and writer on ground-breaking Universal/ NBC TV web series, GEMINI DIVISION, starring Rosario Dawson.
My current credits include a wide range of hybridized storytelling gigs for National Geographic, NatGeo Wild, Discovery, Discovery Family and Animal Planet. I have written and co-written over 13 features and two 1-hour TV pilots including about a dozen 1-hour TV series proposals in every imaginable genre, many of which (sadly) have fallen in and out of development.
I realized I could help and inspire writers when, by invitation, I designed and taught a successful screenwriting lab/workshop at UCLA, and later, again by invitation, a TV writing seminar at NYU's prestigious Goldberg Dramatic Writing Program in Tisch School of the Arts.
I have worked in the Industry on both sides of the table for over 20 years—as one who gives and gets and even translates notes.
As The Script Doctor, I know how the sausage is made.