Screenwriting 101: Jeffrey Leiber

October 15th, 2013 by

screenplay“If the end of the scene is obvious from the beginning of the scene, there’s no point to having the scene. If the beginning of the scene is we’re going to dig for treasure, at the end of the scene you find the treasure, you don’t have much of a scene. If the beginning of the scene is you are going to dig for treasure, and someone breaks their leg and you discover that someone else is working for another team, that’s a scene.”

— Jeffrey Lieber (GITS Interview, August 17, 2013)

Interview: Jeffrey Lieber

August 18th, 2013 by

Jeffrey Lieber is a screenwriter (Tangled, Tuck Everlasting) and TV writer-producer (Miami Medical, The Whole Truth, Pan Am, Necessary Roughness). He also received co-writing credit for the pilot episode of “Lost”.

Lieber_Pub_Photo

Here are inks to the six installments of the entire interview:

Part 1: “I credit having an acting background as an actor for having a pretty deep understanding of how structure works, both within a scene and within a script. That’s most of my training.”

Part 2: “So it was the wrong actress and the wrong script for the wrong project, and it was basically an unwatchable film, but it was my education into film writing in terms of having to rewrite it and rewrite it and change it and alter it and rewrite it and do all the things that need to be done.”

Part 3: “A studio executive may have five shows to worry about. A network executive may have seven shows to worry about. You’re the one who’s in charge of keeping your thing alive, and pleasing the many masters that are around you.”

Part 4: “Television writing is very tough on writers, but it’s writer‑friendly in the sense that you are making the calls. It’s the inverse of the way film works in the sense that the last cut is yours.”

Part 5: “I work on note cards… For a film, I will go from 100 cards, to a 40‑page outline to a script. For a TV show, I’ll go from 40 cards, to a 25‑page outline to a script. If you nail parts one and two, part three should be fairly easy. Then you’re going to rewrite, and rewrite and rewrite, but the hardest part is really getting to the first draft, I think.”

Part 6: “If the end of the scene is obvious from the beginning of the scene, there’s no point to having the scene. If the beginning of the scene is we’re going to dig for treasure, at the end of the scene you find the treasure, you don’t have much of a scene.”

Jeff is repped by CAA and Madhouse Entertainment.

Twitter: @JeffLieber.

Interview: Jeffrey Lieber — Part 6

August 17th, 2013 by

Jeffrey Lieber is a screenwriter (Tangled, Tuck Everlasting) and TV writer-producer (Miami Medical, The Whole Truth, Pan Am, Necessary Roughness). He also received co-writing credit for the pilot episode of “Lost”. I recently spoke with Jeff about his background, his screenwriting and TV writing projects, and the writing craft.

Today in Part 6, Jeff talks more about the craft and keys to success as a writer in Hollywood:

Scott:  How about dialogue? How do you go about finding you characters’ voices?

Jeff:  First of all, people don’t talk in complete sentences. People don’t. My joke, or one of the rules was, have somebody black out all the character names in your script. If you can’t tell one from the other than you’ve fucked something up. Every character has to have a way of speaking.

I feel like I’m fairly good at dialogue from my days as an actor. Then question is how do you make it different? How do you make them sound different? Aaron Sorkin makes everyone sound the same, but that’s his shtick, and then everyone else is going to write characters who sound different from each other.

Dialogue, to me, is the least, not the least important element, but the last element. It’s once you solve structure and story, then you can spend your time working on dialogue.

Scott:  How about theme? This is a subject that I get the widest variety of responses on. How important is theme? Do you start with a central theme? Does it arise over the course of writing something?

Jeff:  I think it all depends on you as a writer. I know Liz Krueger, who’s one of the creators of “Necessary Roughness,” theme is incredibly important to her. To her it’s the touchstone that allows her to know whether any story belongs in the script. I tend to go from a story point of view, and then try to find the theme as I go. I tend to go to the, “What happens next,” school of storytelling. Sometimes seen as incredibly important and sometimes seen as irrelevant.

You have stories that you tell. You tell them in the fashion of this goes into that, goes into that, and then sometime at the end, you go, “Oh. This is all because of x, y or z.” I think, you should probably have that, but it’s not what’s required to tell a story.

The story only has a really interesting beginning, a compelling middle and a surprising end. Maybe, that has a theme, maybe it doesn’t. I feel it depends on the writer. To me, it lies sort of pocket below story, but for some people it’s the first thing they work off of.

Scott:  What do you think about when you’re writing a scene? Do you have goals in mind and, if so, what are they?

Jeff:  I have to know what the scene is there for. Is it there to move a plot piece forward? Is there to reveal a character trait? That’s one of the things I learned later in writing is how to be as surprising as possible. If the end of the scene is obvious from the beginning of the scene, there’s no point to having the scene. If the beginning of the scene is we’re going to dig for treasure, at the end of the scene you find the treasure, you don’t have much of a scene.

If the beginning of the scene is you are going to dig for treasure, and someone breaks their leg and you discover that someone else is working for another team, that’s a scene. At seven scenes later while you’re chasing that person who is working for the other team around, you stumble across the treasure then you can structure this well.

In the third episode of the first season of “Breaking Bad,” there is a set of scenes around Walt having this guy in the basement where he’s trying to figure out whether or not he needs to kill the guy or he can let him go. It is so incredibly well plotted with so many surprises and so specific.

It is a very straight, simple story which is, do I have to kill this man or can I trust him? The way in which it plays out and the pieces that are used to tell the story are so intricately plotted out that it’s a piece of brilliance.

Scott:   What’s your single best excuse not to write?

Jeff:  [laughs] My single best excuse not to… Christian Reed, who [indecipherable] said at one point, “Writing isn’t shoveling rocks or breaking rocks.” Which is to say that it’s something you have to find some level of inspiration to do. You can’t just go out there and do it. So there’s times…One of the hardest things that I had to learn as a writer was to be able to forgive myself for the fact that it just isn’t going to happen today, and to accept that as opposed to sitting in it all day long and forcing myself. I’m a write‑every‑day kind of guy, but there’s some times where I just look at myself and say, “You know what? It isn’t going to happen today. I’m going to forgive myself that and do something else.”

Scott:  What do you love most about writing?

Jeff:  I love the fact that a year and a half after I’ve written something, I will read it and not recognize the fact that I wrote it. This is, particularly, in some of the blog work I do. When you and I first got in contact, and I noticed that you had linked to my principal blogs that I had written back years ago, I read a couple of them and it was as if I was reading something that someone else had written. I was quite happy that I liked it, but it was an amazing experience of not remembering the inspiration, not remembering the activity of writing, not remembering the act of editing, nothing.

It was just this piece of writing that somebody had written, then now I found quite inspiring. That piece of magic is my favorite part of writing.

Scott:  What is it about that? Is it a feeling of almost magic or there was this other part of you that was involved in the creative process…

Jeff:  I honestly don’t know what that is. It’s other worldly and weird. It’s really weird to read something that you know you wrote, but you don’t have any sense or memory of having written…Somebody much more famous than me, said, at one point, “Writing is painful. To have written is glorious.” That I find true. Writing is painful. It’s hard work. It requires a great amount of discipline, and disappointment and everything else. But to have written is glorious and to experience your writing as if it had come from somebody else is magical.

Scott:  One last question: What advice can you offer to an aspiring screen writer or TV writer about learning the craft and breaking into Hollywood?

Jeff:  I would say people like things you love, don’t chase the industry ever. If vampires get so hot and you write a vampire script, there’s someone bigger and more important than you that’s already on that project. Don’t chase it. To some level, you have to put your skin in the game, and come out here, and get a job close enough to somebody who you can impress with your calm, and your givingness, and your energy and all these sort of things. I think the stereotype of the terrified industry insider who is afraid of other people getting their job, that doesn’t exist. That person exists, but it’s not, at least in my experience, what most people are. I think most people are people that once they get to the other side of the fence, and have been let in and allowed to do this thing, if they feel any level of security, what they do is spend a little bit of time trying to find somebody else who they can help along the way.

I remember, very specifically, the first two years out here which were awful and terrifying. I needed somebody to take a shot on me. That person was Robin Lessinger and Adam Goodman over at DreamWorks. What they needed from me was somebody who had the passion and the talent, or some version of the talent, and what I needed from them was a chance. Getting a chance is hard, but the best thing you can do is to keep writing and, then at some point, to decide you’re going to come and be part of the system.

For Part 1, go here.

Part 2, go here.

Part 3, go here.

Part 4, go here.

Part 5, go here.

Please stop by comments to thank Jeff and ask any questions you may have.

Jeff is repped by CAA and Madhouse Entertainment.

Twitter: @JeffLieber.

Interview: Jeffrey Lieber — Part 5

August 16th, 2013 by

Jeffrey Lieber is a screenwriter (Tangled, Tuck Everlasting) and TV writer-producer (Miami Medical, The Whole Truth, Pan Am, Necessary Roughness). He also received co-writing credit for the pilot episode of “Lost”. I recently spoke with Jeff about his background, his screenwriting and TV writing projects, and the writing craft.

Today in Part 5, Jeff discusses some aspects of the writing craft:

Scott:  Some craft questions for you. Let’s say you’re going to write a feature spec or you’re going to spec a TV pilot. How do you come up with story ideas?

Jeff:  In spec development, it’s all about concept. Spec films…let me step back here to the spec films. There’s the kind I wrote to get noticed which were small independent quirky world and they were all about character and I’d just stuck to things I was passionate about. In one case, it was a story about a kid whose father passes away, who creates for himself, an imaginary version of a superhero to replace his father. It was actually a really dark script so it sounds like a teen comedy, but it wasn’t. The other was this story about his college friend comes back. It was attractive and what people liked about them was that my voice was pretty specific and they bought it.

If you’re writing spec film to sell, the big way, it’s really about presence. You just pitch, you say, “This is the poster.” The clearer the poster is, you have people to get to page five. After that, it’s up to writing. In TV, it’s all about the world.

I think the one thing that people mistake when they’re writing a TV pilot is it’s aimed at the plot of the pilot. When I go to pitch an idea with somebody, I pitch them the world, I pitch them the characters, I pitch them the long arc. As I’m walking out the door, someone says, “What’s the pilot about?” The pilot is the least important piece when compared to just getting arcs for the show.

For example, if I were pitching “Breaking Bad” – and it’s one of the best pilot scripts out there, you’ve got to read it – I would talk about, “There’s this guy and he’s the most overworked person in the world. He’s a math teacher at a high school that nobody gives a shit about. His marriage is going south. His kids are annoying and so and so forth. Then, he gets cancer and he decides to get something for himself. And while he’s going to get something himself, he decides to cook meth.”

Now, I say, “This is the show about a guy that starts to dip into cooking meth and he’s the least likely character out there.” Then you pitch around character and you say, “That’s the show and we’re going to watch him over a five season arc. The long arc is about he goes from your least powerful person to one of the most powerful, and he does it through cooking meth. None of that requires you to know too much about the pilot. It’s all about the large arc to the series. Then someone says, “Cool! Well, how in the hell did he get involved in cooking meth?” And you go, “OK. Now I’m going to tell you the pilot.” You’re selling the world and you’re selling characters, and then, at the end, somebody says to you, “OK, what’s the first episode about?”

Scott:  Let’s say you’re writing a spec feature film. How much time do you spend in prep writing, and what do you do in terms of brainstorming, and character development, and plotting and outlining?

Jeff:  I’d say you’re going to spend three‑quarters of your time doing that and a quarter of it actually writing because you’re going to spend your time ‑‑ I work on note cards. I buy a bunch of note cards. I’ve got one for my pilot right here. I write cards and I move them around, and I write more cards and I rip them up. For a film, I will go from 100 cards, to a 40‑page outline to a script. For a TV show, I’ll go from 40 cards, to a 25‑page outline to a script. If you nail parts one and two, part three should be fairly easy. Then you’re going to rewrite, and rewrite and rewrite, but the hardest part is really getting to the first draft, I think.

What separates, in my opinion, good writers from great writers is you do need to dynamically look at your own material and figure out what’s wrong with it. I think a lot of people finish a draft of a script and they go, “It’s done.” They read it and they think, “It’s great!” I think, really good writers look at it and go, “That doesn’t work,” and then is willing to go back and fix it and refine it.

The ability just to see what the problem is is the first great hurdle, and then to have the elasticity to come up with another way around it, and to be willing to tear it up and put it back together again is where the great talent lies. It’s why, frankly, studios and networks want to hire people who’ve done it before because writing one script is…Everyone’s got one script in them, right?

The question is, do you have the ability to look at what’s there and solve the problems as you go? That is something that takes time and learning, and there’s some people who just know how to do it and they rise up. But otherwise, you have to have some ability to learn how to do that, otherwise…

You know, people always complain, and I’m sure I did too before I got the job, “Why do they go to the same writers?” Well, the reason they go to the same writers is they’ve gone through this particular task of being able to diagnose problems by themselves and then figure out ways to solve them.

Scott:   I always thought there are three groups of people in Hollywood. There’s people who really don’t understand story very well at all. There are people who can tell you what’s wrong with the story, but they don’t really know how to fix it. Then there’s that third group, who can tell you what’s wrong, but also know how to fix it. That’s that last group that you want to be in as a writer.

Jeff:  Right. That’s correct. And the ability to hear when various people give you the same basic idea even in different form, and to be able to say, “Ah.” A lot of times, you’ll get notes that are specific, like “I don’t think that character should die here,” right? And the trick is to be able to say, “That’s actually not the problem. The problem is not that the character dies here. The problem is that there’s no one else in the script to jump into the void to become the menace once that character dies.” So you have to be able to both hear the note and then say, “OK, well, hang on.” Some of it, the note is the problem, but a lot of times the note is pointing at something which is not the thing they’re actually pointing at.

Scott:  Do you have any tips on how you go about developing characters when you’re writing a spec script? Any tools you use regularly?

Jeff:  I used to be against cheating, but now I’m sort of for it. Which is, there’s all this stuff that’s in the screenplay that never will see the light of day. There’s sort of two scripts you write. There’s the one you write for people to read, and then there’s the one you write for people to shoot. They’re very different materials. The first draft I write to get greenlit is the reader’s draft, and I’m all for cheating in that. Which is the ability to say this character is like that person. This character is like Jim Carrey on a bad day if he weren’t funny so that you instantly connote an idea that somebody can latch onto and take with them in scenes going forward. Now, that’s never going to get shot. It doesn’t even have an actor. When you go to the shooting version, you pare all that back and just give them what they need to move forward. I think you have to be able to impart…

Again, the most important part of any script is the first ten pages. It is the thing that you can write, and rewrite, and show someone, and wordsmith, and adjust and readjust. There’s no amount that you can do that to because it’s really the hump you’ve got to get everyone over.

They have to trust you as a writer. They have to trust the story, and they have to buy into the characters. If you can do that in ten pages they’ll read forward. That’s why I say, once I’ve decided that there’s someone out there who I find interesting, I’ll read ten pages of anything they’ve written and give them a shot.

All I’ve got to read is ten pages. If they’ve lost me after ten pages then it’s gone, and if not, I’ll read to page eleven. Then maybe, I’ll make it to page 50. If I’ve made it to page 55, I’m in.

Scott:  Interesting you use that word “trust.” Most of the time people will say, “Oh, yeah, the first 10 pages, that’s to get a reader’s interest.” But it’s also about building a connection with the reader where they feel, “Wow, I can really trust that this writer is going to go some place special with this.”

Jeff:  Yeah. I think the reality is we all read…I’m a writer so I’m not an agent or I’m not a manager. I read hundreds, and thousands and tens of thousands of pages a year. There is a moment with a lot of scripts where you just throw it against the wall and say, and sort of scream out, “Why did you make me do this? Why did you send me down this road if you didn’t know what you were doing or if you didn’t recognize that this doesn’t work?” It really is about building to a point where the reader says, “OK, I can trust that this writer knows enough of what they’re doing that…” I can agree with things, I can disagree with things, I would do them differently, but as a writer I know I’m the hands of someone who has thought this through well.

Now, from a buyers’ standpoint, maybe, there’s just something more craft and commercial. Which I think, again, for them the first hurdle you have to do is, “Is this a world I want to be in?”

There’s a movie out there which is “Robot Versus Aliens.” It does it in the title, Pacific Rim. You can just see what the screenplay was, which was, “In order to stop the aliens we built robots.” You can see the marketing and all that sort of play out.

On that level, maybe, even if the writing isn’t any good they just buy into the concept. Then if you’re that writer, and some people are, who pitch concepts and they’re great, you won’t be around when the film gets made. But you may have made a fair amount of money on the way up there.

I never wanted to be that writer, and I’m probably just not that writer who has the ability to pitch concept after concept. I, much, will have to do the work to get there.

In tomorrow’s final installment, Jeff talks more about the craft and keys to success as a writer in Hollywood.

For Part 1, go here.

Part 2, go here.

Part 3, go here.

Part 4, go here.

Please stop by comments to thank Jeff and ask any questions you may have.

Jeff is repped by CAA and Madhouse Entertainment.

Twitter: @JeffLieber.

Interview: Jeffrey Lieber — Part 4

August 15th, 2013 by

Jeffrey Lieber is a screenwriter (Tangled, Tuck Everlasting) and TV writer-producer (Miami Medical, The Whole Truth, Pan Am, Necessary Roughness). He also received co-writing credit for the pilot episode of “Lost”. I recently spoke with Jeff about his background, his screenwriting and TV writing projects, and the writing craft.

Today in Part 4, Jeff talks about the success of the TV series “Necessary Roughness,” his screenwriting and answers some writing questions posed on Twitter:

Scott:  “Unnecessary Roughness” has been quite successful. What do you think is the key to its success?

Jeff:  I think Callie plays an incredibly fun character and a fantastic personality. I think it is similar to what USA does in some ways and different in others. The first two seasons I was executive producer and co‑ran the show with Craig and Liz who created it. This season, I’m just simply a consulting producer, so I’m just there to help out while Craig and Liz are running the show completely on their own. I think they’ve done a pretty amazing job in terms of transitioning the show to something new.

I was part of the re‑breaking and the changing of the show off the beginning and now I’m in one, two days a week, tops, just communicating with them via phone most of the time.

Scott:  You worked on series at the broadcast level, CBS, ABC and NBC, and you’ve worked on series at the cable level here at USA, “Unnecessary Roughness.” What are the differences between working on a broadcast TV series and a cable TV series?

Jeff:  It’s very similar to what existed maybe 5 to 10 years ago in film, which is that network television has become branded material, very large canvas stuff. You need upwards of 10 million people, minimum, to stay on the air in network television. Cable television is much more niche oriented. Some shows with a viewership of 2 to 3 million are huge hits. There’s “The Walking Dead,” which has now eclipsed half of network television. Most of the cable shows that we all know and love don’t actually have an audience that are nearly as large as anything that has failed on network.

I had a really good experience with CBS on my show, even though it did not succeed. As good as an experience as you could have with the network and not have it go forward. But that said, I found that because the stakes are so high and because the expectations are so large, everything feels like it’s on a very short leash. You find yourself, spending a lot of time putting out fires constantly.

Cable tends to be a little more gentle, but it’s slower. The upside to network television is that they pay you more and that things move very quickly. The upside to cable television is that you have more artistic freedom, but things tend to move very slowly. You can be in process.

I know that Craig and Liz, from the time they first sold “Necessary Roughness” until the time I was hired and we started a room was almost two years. That’s a long time to be beholden to one idea and not know whether it’s going to go or not go.

Scott:   Let’s dig in to that a little bit, because per the WGA, there’s been an increase in TV writers in the last 5 years and a decrease in feature film writers. Also, there’s been this sense that this is like a new golden age for TV writing. What do you think is going on there?

Jeff:  Mainly, I think it’s because first of all, television writing is very tough on writers, but it’s writer‑friendly in the sense that you are making the calls. It’s the inverse of the way film works in the sense that the last cut is yours. Because television has to happen over many episodes in long arcs, the heart and soul and the voice of the show lives with the writer, not with the director. In that sense, it’s very friendly. The other is that because it’s a medium that, my show on CBS, if I remembered correctly, aired to about nine million, nine and a half a million viewers. You have to check on that, but if you multiply that by seven bucks, you’ve got a $70 million opening. I’m doing the math wrong. But in film terms, you got a massive opening and that happens with all TV shows. There really is an ability to reach an audience that film doesn’t.

I think the biggest reason is that because of the cost of marketing and everything else that goes on the film side, they have gotten out of the business of hitting doubles. All they’ll try to do is hit home runs, which means that every piece of material is movie with a two after it or some piece of branded material or a game or a candy bar. That is stifling on some level. Also, just how they ask writers to perform on films has been so demeaning and so people have gravitated towards television.

I think the medium is much more adaptable to a world where you’re watching stuff on TV, on computers and your iPads and everything else. I think that the medium is better poised to make the transition of the technological times and television right now.

Scott:  You’re still writing feature films?

Jeff:  I do. I write one a year, maybe two. Every other year, dependent on a producer I know and a project that is interesting to me. I don’t currently want to be one of twelve writers who are adapting some movie. I’m already good at that. It would make me crazy, the stories you hear over and over again about being a part of a council of writers where you haven’t seen the movie, and you realize there’s seven other writers doing that, and so your and so your stuff is put in. That to me is a hard road and doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. For the most part, I’ve been working in TV to work off a blind deal or stacking my own stuff. I come into the world with a job and my job is, “What I’m going to write,” and not, “If I’m going to write.”

Scott:  You’re a Twitter guy [@jefflieber]. Here’s a question for you, “Twitter, great way to interface with the fans or best excuse ever to avoid writing?”

Jeff:  Probably both. In fact, definitely both. I certainly know that I can while away an afternoon when I should be writing something. In that sense, I also think it is a dynamic interesting medium that allows…one of the things we did starting with the first season of “Necessary Roughness,” is we created a sort of real‑time tweet thread for T.J. who is one of the leads on “Necessary Roughness”, a football player. We built into, for the East Coast feed of the show, tweet his voice in connection with moments that were going on in the show. I just find that to be a coming out of the theater, coming out of a medium whereby things happen live and mistakes can be made. There’s little bit of a walking on tightrope element to things.

That, to me, is exciting. I think that the continual interfacing between scripted material and live events, here’s what will give television the advantage over film and other mediums because there’s something live happening. There’s something that is potentially unscripted about it all which is nice.

Scott:  You actually occasionally respond to people on Twitter when people ask you questions. I’ve tagged a couple of your responses and I’m wondering if you could follow up on them. For example, one time you got a question from someone about writing a spec script for TV. You said, “The truth is, nobody really reads specs anymore. Agents, staff and show runners are going to write 53 pages, write an original.” Could you elaborate on that?

Jeff:  I know all people, staffing, writers who do read specs like a “Game of Thrones” episode or a “Mad Men” episode. For me, what is really hard about that is, there is a real‑time level to which the show exists and then the spec script exist. A lot of times, if it is a show I know, the spec script is going to cross over with what is actually happening and I get confused and bored. The other thing is that, it’s a little hard for me to tell whether anyone has chops based on they’re taking other people’s characters and trying to mimic them. It’s an interesting skill. On the show that’s mine, I know that I have to be the last pen on the paper anyway so I really want is a writer’s ability to understand structure and character to the story.

They write great, that’s fantastic, but I don’t require them to completely learn to mimic my voice. I tend to say to people when I do meetings for staffing, “Give me the best material you’ve got. If that’s spec great, I’ll read 15 pages and go, ‘Oh, they voiced it right. I’ll take it.'”

I figure, if you’re going to spend your time writing, why not write something that if somebody loves it, they’ll go, “Let’s make this.” As opposed to an episode of “Mad Men” that they go, “Oh, OK, you can write. Now what are you going to do?” No one’s ever going to make your spec episode of “Mad Men.”

Scott:  Twenty years ago, nobody would have written an original spec pilot for a TV series. What do you attribute this trend toward writing original spec TV pilots?

Jeff:  I think it’s just so hard. When I came out to L.A., the Internet was still fairly a small piece of industry in terms of, how I had an email account, but I think the proliferation of places you can read screen plays, people who now have computers and can think about writing series, there’s just so much material out there that it’s almost impossible to stand out with your full episode of “Game of Thrones.” How do you make that stand out in a way that is so dynamic that somebody will go, “I’ll give you the job?” I think it’s just an adaptation of the industry where if you want to be seen, you have to write something wholly original and yours. Otherwise, you’re just in a pile somewhere.

Scott:  Here’s another Tweet you did responding to a question: “Two ways into TV. Number one, make splash in other mediums, capitalized, parenthesis, make graphic novel, left‑wing website. Number two, get a member already in TV.” So that’s about originality and the freshness of the idea and the writing, right?

Jeff:  Yeah, I mean, I had an assistant for many years who is now on staff on “Necessary Roughness.” He’s doing a great job. He’s doing a stunning job over there. I’ve got a new one now and actually, my job with these people is to try to teach them what I can and hopefully won’t pick the stuff that I do wrong. Help them transition from my assistant to a job somewhere. When it comes time to staff up for a TV show, there’s 100 people who are way up top in the co‑EP producer level and as you go down the ranks towards staff writers there’s thousands and thousands. The question is, “How do you get seen?” It all comes out of having one piece of material that really is what you do incredibly well and it’s in a voice that is, in the first 10 pages, “Oh, that’s cool.” That’s a pretty interesting trick.

Tomorrow in Part 5, Jeff discusses some aspects of the writing craft.

For Part 1, go here.

Part 2, go here.

Part 3, go here.

Please stop by comments to thank Jeff and ask any questions you may have.

Jeff is repped by CAA and Madhouse Entertainment.

Twitter: @JeffLieber.

Interview: Jeffrey Lieber — Part 3

August 14th, 2013 by

Jeffrey Lieber is a screenwriter (Tangled, Tuck Everlasting) and TV writer-producer (Miami Medical, The Whole Truth, Pan Am, Necessary Roughness). He also received co-writing credit for the pilot episode of “Lost”. I recently spoke with Jeff about his background, his screenwriting and TV writing projects, and the writing craft.

Today in Part 3, Jeff discusses several of the TV series with which he has been involved and what it’s like being a showrunner:

Scott:   You have a slew of projects on TV. There was the CBS series “Miami Medical.” You created that show, is that right?

Jeff:  Yes, yes. It came out of a blind deal I was doing with Bruckheimer, JBTV, who I love endlessly. When it started it wasn’t a show that was set in Miami and it wasn’t a show that was medical, so the fact that it became that is pretty funny. But that was a show that came out of our poking around and finding that there were essentially five trauma‑only facilities in the country, that were institutions that did nothing other than trauma care. And so what was really interesting to me was this concept of, how do you live your life when every day is spent receiving people who are really dying as they walk in? So we developed a pitch and took it out and sold it to CBS, and it was on the air for 13 episodes in 2006, 2007? I don’t remember now.

Scott:  Were you running the show too?

Jeff:  I was co‑running it with a guy named Steve Maeda, who was brought on to be the showrunner, and then he was very kind in mentoring me and allowing me to do it. So I took on the task of that along with him. And that relationship often goes horribly badly, because there’s this fight between artistic control on one side and institutional control on the other. Steve is the kind of guy who, if you’re going to get in that relationship, is the perfect guy to so, because he has a lot of patience and a very little ego. He really was…he along with a broad number of people were very good in mentoring me to do that job. It’s a job that I enjoy intensely and feel like I’m pretty good at.

Scott:  There was an ABC series “The Whole Truth” which you were writing on and co‑executive producer. What was the story on that series?

Jeff:  It was a show that was created by a guy named Tom Donaghy, and I segued out of my deal when “Miami Medical” did not go to the second season. I had another development deal with them, so as part of my development deal, I went and worked on both that show and a show called “Chase” as sort of a co‑EP. It was frankly my first staffing experience, because I had written pilots, a bunch of pilots, some of which were shot and never went to series, one for Fox, one for Lifetime, actually. And so the first time I’d ever been on staff, I was on my own staff and I was running the show, and the second time I was on staff I was a co‑EP on these two other Bruckheimer shows.

Jennifer Johnson was the creator of “Chase” and she was great. So I was both developing at the time and working on their staff.

Scott:  How was that, working on two shows at one time?

Jeff: Co‑EP is kind of the sweet spot in television, which is to say, you have a lot of responsibility, and if you know what you’re doing, you can be very helpful, but there comes a point in every day where you go home and you go to bed and the creator or the showrunner or both are stuck trying to figure out how to keep the patient alive. So when you’re co‑EP you’re afforded a certain amount of freedom that you don’t get when you’re running your own show or you’re running somebody else’s show. So it was tough, because I had a lot to do. I had to both write the pilot I was writing and work on those shows, but in the co‑EP position, a lot of responsibilities and phone calls and meetings and notes just don’t bubble up to you, so you have a little freedom too.

Scott:  What about the ABC series “Pan Am”? You were a consulting producer on that?

Jeff:  Yeah, I was co‑running “Necessary Roughness,” which we can get into in a second, at the time, and Steve was hired to take over “Pan Am,” because the show was having a rough time and needed people to come in quickly. So he actually hired a good portion of our staff from “Miami Medical” to come in and try to right the ship there. Steve was spending his time really trying to deal with just getting the show back on budget and on time and everything else, and so left us in the room to really try to figure out how to re‑position artistically the show.

So it was just basically between the first and second season of “Necessary Roughness” and it was a very short, intense period of time. It was a little like getting the band back together, because we all knew each other. There was this shorthand that was really useful.

Scott:  Let’s talk about “Necessary Roughness.” You’re an executive producer on that. If you’re at a party and someone says, “Oh, what’s that series about,” how would you describe that?

Jeff:  It is based on a real‑life woman who was hired, who had a practice in New York, and is this fantastic New Jersey lady named Donna Dannenfelser, who’s got long nails and blingey jewelry and crazy hair and all this sort of stuff. She had a small practice in New York and then got a call one day to come be the sports therapist for the New York Jets. And so she went from helping women with eating disorders to dealing with some of the most highly‑paid, highly confusing, highly big‑issues players in a sports setting. So that was the premise that Craig and Liz sold to USA and created as a pilot and shot as a pilot. And then I was brought on to be for them what Steve Maeda was for me, which was somebody who’d basically come on the show and mentor them. And they, like me, took to it like a fish to water and have been doing it since.

Scott:  I’m guessing a lot of people don’t even know what a showrunner is. What are your responsibilities in that capacity?

Jeff:  The responsibilities are that you drive the bus, right? In the end, you are responsible for the creation of story‑line; you are responsible for the overseeing of the budget; you are responsible for the casting, for the editing. There are people who work with you in all these fashions. You’ve got a casting director, you have editors, and so on and so forth but at the end of the day, you are behind the wheel and you decide whether to go left or right.

A studio executive may have five shows to worry about. A network executive may have seven shows to worry about. You’re the one who’s in charge of keeping your thing alive, and pleasing the many masters that are around you.

The job of the showrunner is both to be the head writer and to also be responsible for the day‑to‑day workings of the show. When you’re in LA and the show’s shooting in Atlanta, and something bad happens on 6:30 on a Monday, you’re getting call at 3:30. Your cell phone rings at 3:30 in L.A. and you have to figure out how to make it function.

Scott:  What’s a typical day like when the series is in production?

Jeff:  Yeah, in the middle of the schedule of a 13 episode order. When you’re in the middle of that order, you are, let me see how I can do this correctly, you are editing episode two, you are shooting episode four, you are writing the scripts for episode five, you are breaking the outlines for episodes six, seven and eight. You are, in any given day, doing the story for possibly five or six episodes in one form or the other. You are watching casting tapes. It’s a little hectic on some mornings. You come in. You spend the morning from 7:30 to 10:00 dealing with phone calls, talking to your line producer, walking in after the first scene before they shoot it and so on and so forth. At 10:00, you sit down in a room with the writers and hopefully are able to debrief them as to what’s going on, give them some direction as to what the room has to do in a given day, ask them to break the following story‑lines and so on and so forth. If you can, you’re in there for a couple of hours.

Then you have to go off in your world. You go into the edit room for a couple of hours and do edits and cuts. That takes you to 2:00. You’re eating at your desk constantly. You’re then looking over an outline and trying to do edits on that to get it out to the he studio. Maybe have a call at four. You go back to the room at 5:30 and look at what they’ve done and give them some more notes, something you do until maybe 6:00, 6:30, when you send them home.

You go back and then you try to write. I typically will try to write from five to seven, to the extent that I can. I try to then get home to my family. Then, come 10:00, when everyone is asleep, I go back to work either writing or looking at cuts, whatever it is. That gets me to midnight. I crash out and the whole thing starts again.

Tomorrow in Part 4, Jeff talks about the success of the TV series “Necessary Roughness,” his screenwriting and answers some writing questions posed on Twitter.

For Part 1, go here.

Part 2, go here.

Please stop by comments to thank Jeff and ask any questions you may have.

Jeff is repped by CAA and Madhouse Entertainment.

Twitter: @JeffLieber.

Interview: Jeffrey Lieber — Part 2

August 13th, 2013 by

Jeffrey Lieber is a screenwriter (Tangled, Tuck Everlasting) and TV writer-producer (Miami Medical, The Whole Truth, Pan Am, Necessary Roughness). He also received co-writing credit for the pilot episode of “Lost”. I recently spoke with Jeff about his background, his screenwriting and TV writing projects, and the writing craft.

Today in Part 2, Jeff discusses his background as a screenwriter and his involvement with “Lost”:

Scott:  Let’s talk about the movie side of things. First, the 2001 movie Tangled that stars Rachael Leigh Cook. That’s described on IMDB this way: “A young man that’s found bruised, beaten, and stumbling down a secluded road as the police trying to piece together what happened. An improbable relationship between a young woman and her two suitors gradually emerge.” What’s the back story on that project?

Jeff:  It’s funny because it really was the first script I wrote, film script, and when I came out here with it I showed it to somebody who sort of stared at it in horror. It was in the wrong font. It was 15‑page, 17‑page scenes, like I’d written a play, right? And so I spent ‑‑ at the time it was called, “Conspiracy of Weeds” was the title that everybody read it under, and it was just a play about a guy at the time. I should say I was thinking about a guy at the time who had these complicated relationships in college and shows up two years later to try to clean them up and bad things happen and lots of stuff.

And I think that script was my education into screenwriting, because I must have rewritten it 30 times over the course of two years between when I came out here in ’94 and when it really became one of my calling cards in ’97. The joke of it was when it was optioned a couple different places and Rachael Lee Cook was cast, it was one of those things where anybody would have liked a Rachael Leigh Cook movie would not have liked my script, and anyone who liked my script would have never gone to see a Rachael Leigh Cook movie.

So it was the wrong actress and the wrong script for the wrong project, and it was basically an unwatchable film, but it was my education into film writing in terms of having to rewrite it and rewrite it and change it and alter it and rewrite it and do all the things that need to be done.

Scott:  You mentioned Tuck Everlasting which came out in 2002, and that features William Hurt and Sissy Spacek. “A young woman meets and falls in love with a young man who’s part of a family of immortals.” What was your involvement in that project?

Jeff:  It had been hanging around for a while, owned by Jane Startz. She’s a great producer who had been trying to get that project going. It’s a book adaptation. A wonderful book, a book I had read in middle school or grade school. I forget what it was. And it was a trap. The reason nobody would sort of move it forward was it felt genteel to people, right? It was a young female lead. It was a period piece. It was about growing up and all this sort of stuff.

And so, again, I credit it to having an acting background. One of the things I do fairly well is I pitch, and I was able to go in to them and say, “Wipe your brains clean and don’t think of it in terms of the book it is. Just think of it as a kidnapping meets a hostage situation meets a mystery.” And I was able to reframe what the book was in a way that they were finally willing to go forward with the project.

So I was the first writer on that and did a bunch of drafts and got it to a director and green lit, and then they brought in another writer to do some writing after that. But it was my second job. My first job was a script for DreamWorks and the second one was Tuck.

The first couple projects I did, one was a spec and one was assigned, both of them got made, which is not a small feat.

Scott:  Unusual. I know some writers, they’ve done 20 projects or more, and maybe gotten two or three made.

Jeff:  Yeah, I certainly paid later on. I got a pile of scripts like everybody else does it that felt like they should be something and never turned into anything. I joke a lot that movies are Christian and TV is Jewish, which is to say that movies never die, right? They are eternally alive, and at any point can be resurrected from the dead and come back. What is sort of comforting about TV for me is that once a piece has died for the most part they just die, and so it’s very cyclical and close ended and there’s a time clock to them.

Scott:  Let’s segue to TV, starting with “Lost”, which you wrote the original pilot. What do people tell you when they ask you what was your connection with that series?

Jeff:  My artistic involvement in the show ends as soon as the plane starts to plummets towards the ground. The show artistically, certainly, belongs completely to J.J., and Carlton Cuse, and Damon. I’m, certainly, proud to be part of it, but my involvement is more legal than artistic.

Tomorrow in Part 3, Jeff discusses several of the TV series with which he has been involved.

For Part 1, go here.

Please stop by comments to thank Jeff and ask any questions you may have.

Jeff is repped by CAA and Madhouse Entertainment.

Twitter: @JeffLieber.

Interview: Jeffrey Lieber — Part 1

August 12th, 2013 by

Jeffrey Lieber is a screenwriter (Tangled, Tuck Everlasting) and TV writer-producer (Miami Medical, The Whole Truth, Pan Am, Necessary Roughness). He also received co-writing credit for the pilot episode of “Lost”.

I recently spoke with Jeff about his background, his screenwriting and TV writing projects, and the writing craft. Today in Part 1, Jeff describes how he found his way into the entertainment business:

Scott:  You went to Evanston Township High School, then the University of Illinois. Where in that educational process did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a screenwriter and TV writer?

Jeff:   I was living in Chicago, and it was 1993 or ’94, and I was acting in a production of “Awake and Sing!” at Steppenwolf. And I was playing Ralphie. I was doing the “got to organize them down in the warehouse” unionizing speech, when I had this overwhelming sensation that I was wearing makeup and the walls were an inch‑and‑a‑half thick, and that I’d the same thing nine times that week. Oh, and there were 200, 250 sleeping elderly, mostly Jewish women staring at me. I had what would be described in the best terms as an epiphany or in the worst terms as a breakdown. That’s when I realized my time as an actor had come to an end. At that point, I had already, since high school, been writing plays, so I decided that I would pursue half‑hour and consider moving out to Los Angeles since I’d tried my hand at a “Mad About You” spec and a “Seinfeld” spec.

And so I’ll give you the whole story and you can do what you want with it, but what happened was this, was that I sent the scripts to a friend who was an actress who was at an agency called Writers and Artists. And she gave it to one of the literary agents there, who I think basically wanted to have sex with her, and so as a way of getting in good with her, said, “Hey, sure, I’ll represent your friends. I like the scripts.”

So I and my writing partner at the time moved to Los Angeles and we spent about six months preparing for staffing season and meeting with our agent, a guy named Jason. And then one day we went in the morning to discuss a movie idea we had. And then lunch came and after lunch I called back to ask an idea. And the assistant said, “Jason doesn’t work here anymore.”

And I said, “Well, he did two hours ago.” He said, “Well, he doesn’t anymore.”

A week or two passed and I went in to meet with Rick Berg, who was running Writers and Artists at the time, and basically said, “What happens now?” Rick said, “Look, you were hip‑pocketed, which means that Jason was representing you in name only and none of us knew about you. We don’t have anyone here who supports you. So I’m sorry, but we’re going to let you go.”

I gave Rick Berg one of those rousing speeches of, “You’ll be sorry. I’m a great writer. We’re great writers. When I get big, I will send you my check stubs, and you’ll be sorry you ever had this day.” “Yeah, yeah. Fine, go.”

Eight months pass by. I’m banging around Los Angeles one way or the other. Eventually got a script to an assistant, who was friends with an actor’s assistant, who was friends with a writer’s assistant, who read the script and liked it so‑so, and gave us notes.

We did a rewrite and she gave it to her agent. The agent really liked it and called us up and said, “Hey, I’m gong to represent you, but I’m leaving my agency and I’m going to land somewhere else in a couple of weeks, and I’ll call you when I arrive.” Two weeks later she called back and said, “Hey, I’m at my new agency. Congratulations, you are now represented by Writers and Artists.”

I was reintroduced to Rick Berg at the time, in an elevator. It was now six months after he’d fired me. He of course did not remember me or my speech or anything else. I ended up sending them my check stubs for the next three years because they represented me. That was my transition.

Scott:  A Hollywood education, right?

Jeff:  Yeah, exactly. I believe I remember what happened to Scott. He ended up actually, next casting on “The Simpsons.” You know, if you think about it, considering they use the same voices all the time it’s one step up from costumes on “The Simpsons.” So he went from being a literary agent at Writers and Artists to casting for “The Simpsons.”

Scott:   When you were growing up were you more of a TV guy than a movie guy?

Jeff:  Well, no, because what happened was that after I moved to Writers and Artists, I was sent on a meeting with a woman named Robyn Meisinger, who at the time was in development for Barry Mendel. In my meeting with Robyn, she looked at me and she said, “I’m going to manage you.” I became her first client. I’m with Robyn still, 15 years later. I had written two film scripts, both of which were small independent movies that everybody loved to read but nobody was going to make because they were so quirky.

I actually, by the time I got my first job, was a film writer. My first seven jobs were all film scripts, one of which was Tuck Everlasting which eventually got made. It wasn’t until three of four years into my career that people started coming to me and saying, “Hey, we’re looking for new voices in television.” I started writing pilots, and that transitioned me back into television.

My arc was I thought I was half‑hour writer. Turned out I’m a joke a page short. Then really wanted to do films, specifically for independent film. Then realized that, for me at least, the television world is much more hospitable to the kind of stories I like to tell. The work environment is much more attractive to writers.

Scott:  Did you have any formal training in writing, either TV or features? How did you learn the craft?

Jeff:  I didn’t. The only training I had was that I took a class very early on at a place called “Writers Boot Camp.” One, I think it was a half‑hour class or an hour class. I don’t remember what it was. Not brilliant or not terrible, but quite useful. Really it’s been an education by reading a lot of scripts and learning. I credit having an acting background as an actor for having a pretty deep understanding of how structure works, both within a scene and within a script. That’s most of my training.

I went to the theater conservatory at the University of Illinois, so I had four years of Shakespeare and Chekhov and Ibsen and all that sort of stuff. So I had that kind of thing, but in terms of TV and cinema, not really.

Scott:  Given your background, would you recommend writers do at least some training or take some classes in acting?

Jeff:  Yeah, I would. I mean it certainly helps you understand the amount of stuff that characters say that is unnecessary and puts you in a position to realize how late you can and should get into a decision and how quickly you should get out of it. As an actor, the minute you have a scene where you go, “Hi, how are you? Sit down,” and you realize I’m doing nothing but killing time before, “Why are you fucking my sister?” right?

So you become aware as an actor when you are kinesthetically engaged, and you go, “Ah, that’s where the scene starts,” right? So I certainly recommend it. First of all, it’s fun. Second of all, it really exposes you to a lot of people. But it does give you a real understanding of how certain dialog works and how scene structure works and all that sort of stuff.

Tomorrow in Part 2, Jeff discusses his background as a screenwriter and his involvement with “Lost.”

Please stop by comments to thank Jeff and ask any questions you may have.

Jeff is repped by CAA and Madhouse Entertainment.

Twitter: @JeffLieber.

How Jeff Lieber landed his first writing gig in Hollywood

June 18th, 2013 by

Jeff Lieber, whose film credits include Tuck Everlasting and TV writing and producing credits include “Miami Medical,” “Necessary Roughness,” and “Lost,” recently went on Twitter to answer a question. Jeff kindly agreed to let me reprint his series of tweets because… well, it’s just an awesome story. Here it is!

Whenever I go somewhere and talk about the biz… one of the first questions is, “Howdya get your first job.”

So, story goes like this…

The year is 1997, I’d been in LA for 2 years, and had every thing imaginable had gone WRONG.

4 points on my driver’s license. Check.

Girlfriend left me for another dude. Check.

Chicken pox… at 28. Check, check, check.

Now, SOME things had gone RIGHT.

I had 2 scripts which lots of people liked to read (but not buy or make) and I had both a manager and agent.

(Getting agent/manager is another story entirely.)

But “having an agent and manager” is not having THE FIRST JOB.

And THE FIRST JOB I needed badly.

BTW, my bills were being paid as an associate producer on an R-rated video game, which was sort of a glorified title, considering I spent my days basically editing images of dildos.

(Again… another story for another time.)

So, to get THE FIRST WRITING JOB, my manager (Robyn Meisinger at Madhouse, still my manager to this day) and I created a pitch. And it was GREAT.

I don’t mean to say that the MOVIE that would have come from the pitch was great… I doubt it made any sense… but the pitch, which was 45 minutes of me acting out damn scene was a show worthy of broadway.

I’ve been told that some people… upon hearing about the pitch… scheduled meetings just to see me jump around.

The pitch was was a romantic comedy about a guy who had to perform modern versions of the 12 tasks of Hercules in order to win the love of a woman (like I said, movie… sketchy) and I went around town doing the dog and pony show for anyone who would listen.

Now, one of the people I did this canine/equine act for was Adam Goodman, then a junior executive at Dreamworks. Adam (GREAT guy) watched the pitch with one eyebrow raised and when it was done said… OK, that was great, BUT it’s not a movie for us… BUT, BUT there may be ANOTHER movie, one already in development, that we might consider hiring you to rewrite. Was I interested?

Was I interested? Christ, YES, my life was faux-phalic-filled.

I’ll spare you the details of the other movie, but suffice to say I worked up a pitch for the rewrite, and went back in.

Rewrite pitch… went fantastic… and I was told in the room it was in the running and it was down to just 2 writers.

Me… and John Patrick Shanley.

Insert record scratch here.

That would be, got-no-credits, spends-days-staring-at-dildos ME and Academy Award Winning Screenwriter and Tony Award Winning Playwright John Patrick Shanley. Sigh.

My only hope was… I was cheap, he was not… and Shanley (apparently) had some crazy ass clause his contract that said that once he was hired… no other screenwriter could be brought on to rewrite him.

A week goes by, then another. No news and more no news.

And I’m FREAKING out.

(Insert the image of me… at my dildo desk… calling manager/agent 10 times a day.)

By the 3rd week, I decided that I had to do SOMETHING to break the log jam and so, I went out and bought a goldfish and a bowl and some food. Then I wrote a note that said:

“Little fish eat less food, take up less space and write better screenplays. Hire me.”

3 days after I sent note and fish (to Bob Cooper head of the studio at the time)… I got the job.

Now, there is a coda to this story… one I’ve made a point of remembering because I’m quite sure it was the universe sending me a message very loud and ever so clear.

The coda goes like this:

Four days later I went in to see Adam Goodman and Bob Cooper (and another very cool guy named Jason Hoffs) to start the process of writing the movie and when I got to Cooper’s office I noticed… the EMPTY fishbowl sitting on his assistants desk.

“What– Um– What happened to the fish?” I asked.

“Well,” said the sheepish assistant, “We sort of overfed it… and we killed it.”

Yes, I thought… and still remember… Hollywood does tend to do that.

You can read Jeff’s Showrunner Rules, currently 190 of them, by going here.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffLieber.

And I’m happy to announce Jeff has agreed to an interview. So we can look forward to his insight into both screenwriting and TV writing.

Showrunner Rules from Jeffrey Lieber: Numbers 181-190

June 4th, 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 181-190:

Showrunner Rule #181: Don’t rush pilot. Producer’s “They’re picking up NOW” is noise. Think Paul Masson: We’ll sell no wine before its time.

Showrunner Rule #182: No matter good/bad, scariest day day is when director’s cut of 1st episode arrives. Signals the coming of 90 hr weeks.

Showrunner Rule #183: Break order: 1 Character season arcs 2 Season episode structure. 3 Individual Episode Structure. 4 Individual Scenes.

Showrunner Rule #184: Same health erosion that happens with Presidents during 1st term… happens to showrunners during pilot pick up week.

Showrunner Rule #185: You know you’re close when you wake at 2AM to write, “It’d be better if it was an eagle” on a nearby scrap of paper.

Showrunner Rule #186: The 6th time you move a comma in the same sentence, is the moment you should leave your office and go break story.

Showrunner Rule #187: Iconic TV simplified. Universal emotions (love, hate, despair) portrayed in a manner unique to only YOUR show.

Showrunner Rule #188: Act structure via interjections. Tease: Cool. Act 1: Wow. Act 2: Fuck! Act 3: WHAT?! Act 4: Ah-hah! Tag: Wait, REALLY?

Showrunner Rule #189: Execs have 2, 4… maybe 6 shows to think about. You only have 1 & your show only has YOU. So… defend your show.

Showrunner Rule #190: Moment you get inkling you might use actor you down “own” (regular) pin’m. Nothing kills story like actor absentitus.

Showrunner Rule 190A: “Pinning” actor means calling agent to say, “Don’t let them take another job without letting us know first.”

Here is Jeff’s bio:

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.

We can look for more Showrunner Rules from Jeff in the months to come. You can follow them live on Twitter (@JeffLieber) as Jeff rolls them out.

For all of the Showrunner Rules, go here.