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Ken: What if a show is cancelled near the submission deadline?

Program Director: We won’t read it. If it’s been reported by industry blogs that there’s a possibility a show will be cancelled, we expect the writer to know that and not submit that.

A post from a Facebook group earlier today popped up on my feed. The OP asked about formatting for a show all the industry blogs say is dead in the water. The thread included comments from others advising the OP not to spec a cancelled or almost assuredly to-be cancelled. Then others pointed to the rules saying, “The rules say it’s okay so it’s okay.”

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It’s not okay

Here’s CBS Diversity Institute’s Writers Mentoring Program director Carole Kirschner on Pilar Allesandra’s On the Page podcast (I’ve been binge listening to it all weekend):

You have to be a detective. Your business as a writer is not just to write; it’s to know the business.
–Podcast #376

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Kirschner was talking about what shows to spec and why you shouldn’t spec low rated shows. And the expectation that writers know which shows to avoid. Kirschner even gave websites on how to check a show’s numbers and cancellation chances.

So that’s two out of the four program directors who go beyond what their program rules state and say, “Don’t do that.”

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I’m doing what I want

Here’s a couple other reasons why not to spec an on-the-bubble show

– The programs can’t find a reader who knows that show. As someone who has read for a program, I was specifically asked what shows I watched and was assigned scripts accordingly. Listening to other readers, I know that that is not unique.

— If accepted, the program still can’t send it out as a sample. Don’t take my word–some dude called me a “random internet guy” even tho I stated that I moderate panels with a program, which all you know is Disney ABC Talent Development–take it from Carole again on On the Page:

“Show runners and executives have to actually have seen the show.”

–Unless a show suddenly triples its numbers and holds them, it’s apparent quite soon that the show is not doing well. Thus you’re telling the program that you don’t pay attention to the industry and in the time that it was apparent that it was probably going to get cancelled, you couldn’t write a different spec. CBS’ deadline is more than two weeks away. You can’t write a spec in that time? Well, showrunners will love you.

The OP chose a show The Wrap said just today has a 25% chance of staying on the air. And even if it did by chance live another season, that doesn’t mean you should spec it.

But the OP says she’s going to spec it anyway.

Okay, do what you want

I’m not going to use her name or direct you to the group because that would be unfair. But the OP has a supposed advantage over everyone else. She was quite well known 20 years ago in some circles. Intentionally vague. But I’ve also seen her post prior to submission deadlines before. And not listened to sound advice.

Don’t think that people in the program and their readers avoid forums. They are not in a bubble.

Those who are also entering these same programs are saying, “Stop helping her. Less competition for us.”

As I mentioned in my previous post, 20-30% of scripts are eliminated without a read. Why put yourself in a group that’s not even read? And then think that you didn’t get in because of your writing?

But don’t listen to me. I’m just a random internet guy.

–Ken Choy

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