Friday, February 15, 2008

Our sepia-toned TV writing careers

I believed it was over for those of us who'd been TV writers in the "before flat screen TV era" until Judi ventured out to "take a meeting" (if that's still what it's called). This may lead to her getting a call and having the project "put into development" (if that's still what it's called) unless the young guy she met with will worry that by making this deal, the rest of us who stopped reading "Variety" in 1990 will knock on his door (if they still have doors).

Unlike printed silk dresses that get recycled at vintage boutiques, television scribes (if that's what they're still called) were known to have a shelf life. We're encouraged to make a graceful departure from the industry once the laughs we've inspired become memorialized as lines on our faces.

There's no official retirement age, but I came up with a formula. Multiply X (the number of meetings in a typical month) by Y (miles driven to the meetings), then divide by Z (deals made). When that substantially changes, you're retired. If that's too much math, let X equal the number of times you call your agent while Y equals the number of returned calls. When X and Y have nothing to do with each other, that's the time to take a look at a room at the Motion Picture Retirement Home.

Writers who once wrote for TV get used to being asked, "Would I have seen anything you've written?"

"Tell me what you've seen," I say, "and I'll let you know."

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