John Holton (john_holton) wrote,
John Holton

You know, every book that I've read about writing for television makes it clear that, in order to write for television, you have to live in Los Angeles. For that matter, every book I've read about screenwriting strongly suggests that, in order to have a better than slim chance of selling a screnplay, living in Los Angeles is highly recommended. I don't know about the rest of you, but I think this speaks volumes about the industry as a whole.

This is a world that thrives on technology. Cellular phones, VoIP, video conferencing, email, Yahoo! Messenger, webcams, etc. make it possible for people to get together from thousands of miles away. You no longer have to be gathered in one place to get a job done. You don't even have to be in the same country as your collaborators. Hell, you don't even have to be on the same continent. Except in television, where everyone gathers in one room someplace in Hollywood for 12-15 hours a day and writes a television script.

(The script itself is a throwback to a simpler time. No matter how clear other typefaces may be, everything's done in 12 point typewriter font, with specific tab stops, on three hole paper, fastened with Acco #5 or #6 brads in the top and bottom hole. I know of only one person who still uses a typewriter, and she's a pain in the ass, anyway. Violate the rules on a spec script, and it gets thrown out. It could be the best script they've ever laid eyes on, but if it doesn't look right, it gets tossed.)

Is it any wonder that there's so much crap on TV? OK, there's a lot of good stuff, too. There are some very funny sitcoms, some fascinating dramatic programs, and I enjoy a lot of it (as most of you can probably tell). But, when you think about it, most programming is written by two groups of people: Hollywood veterans, and people who are willing to move from where they are to Los Angeles, i.e. people just out of school, people who are out of work anyway, etc. A figure that keeps coming up in my reading is 5,500. That's the approximate number of people writing for television right now. In a country of almost 300 million people, everything seen on television is written by 5,500 of them. That's second only to the statistic that, in a country that has 53 candidates (don't forget Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands) for Miss America, there are but two candidates for President.

I know that writer_chick and I have discussed this at some length in the past, but it answers a lot of questions about the quality of programming, the dearth of programming that's located anywhere but New York and Los Angeles, and why certain attitudes toward people (and everything else) in other parts of the country are so prevalent on television. I find it ironic that an industry run by 5,500 like minded people has so much to say about diversity. Hollywood certainly has its nerve characterizing Southerners as in-bred morons, considering that most of the "new" programming is written by the usual gang of idiots (with a tip of the hat to Mad Magazine).

I'm making an issue of this because, if I've had one dream in my life, it's to write for television. I honestly wonder whether I'm just wasting my time.
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