Showrunner Rules from Jeffrey Lieber: Numbers 41-50

February 13th, 2013 by

Jeff Lieber is a screenwriter and TV writer. His movie credits include Tuck Everlasting and he is currently an executive producer of the USA Network series “Necessary Roughness.” On Twitter (@JeffLieber), he has run a series of tweets called Showrunner Rules. For background on Jeff and this Twitter series, go here.

Today: Numbers 41-50.

Showrunner Rule #41: Green envelopes are the surprise under the Christmas tree. They are residuals & they come without warning.#WayToGoWGA

Showrunner Rule #42: When you tell an actor, “I’ll try,” actor HEARS, “This will happen,” so if it DOESN’T you’re now incompetent or a liar.

Showrunner Rule #43: Stages of an episode. Concept page. Outline. Script. At each stage writers, studio & network weigh in. Lotsa notes.

Showrunner Rule #44: Most hour dramas have 42′ 30″ run time, so you hope 1st cut comes in at 47′. 5′ of cuttable poop is pretty standard.

Showrunner Rule #45: Every few days pick another seat in “the room”. “Same seats” connotes static roles, which isn’t a productive dynamic.

Showrunner Rule #46: There’s a PRE & POST budget script. POST budget has 3 less locations, 5 less speaking parts and no exploding llama.

Showrunner Rule #47: Pilot pick up call often comes at wrong moment. Favorite wrong moment was while depooping front yard (dog not human).

Showrunner Rule #48: 36 is the # of days from 1st story break to finished production draft. 36 is KEY, because TV is GREAT SCRIPTS ON TIME.

Showrunner Rule 48A (addendum): By end of season 36 days shrinks to 15 & that’s when script gangbanging becomes norm.

Showrunner Rule #49: Tone meeting is last chance w/ director to explain what the fuck you meant when you wrote: That sock… he hates it!

Showrunner Rule #50: All casting starts w/ a list. Actors who fit role becomes avail actors who fit, turns into fit+avail+interest.

For Showrunner Rules: Numbers 1-10, go here.

Numbers 11-20, go here.

Numbers 21-30, go here.

Numbers 31-40, go here.

Next: Showrunner Rules: Numbers 51-60.

I asked Jeff for a bio. Here it is:

One day in 1986, after blowing up a glass beaker in a lab in high school, Jeffrey Lieber’s science teacher, Dr. Nagoi, turned to him and said, “Jeffrey… you be an actor… you be a writer… maybe have a family… but please, dear God, don’t be a chemist.” And it was those words that launched a journey that has ended up with Mr. Lieber becoming a screenwriter, showrunner, blogger, father and husband (Credits? Go here). Every day, while pursuing his passions, Mr. Lieber takes a moment to stop and thank Dr. Nagoi for his sage advice.

Thanks, Jeff. Best of luck on the front lines of running a TV series and all your creative endeavors!

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