Showrunner Rules from Jeffrey Lieber: Numbers 231-240

March 3rd, 2015 by

Jeff Lieber is a screenwriter and TV writer. His movie credits include Tuck Everlasting and he is currently an executive producer of the CBS series “NCIS: New Orleans”. 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 231-240:

Showrunner Rule #231: Episode success more bout 1/2hour retention then overall #. Series must get aud to show, writer/director gotta keep’s.

Showrunner Rule 232: In network environ, hafta think bout season 2 DURING season 1. That or resign yourself to hiatus that’s 38 hours long.

Showrunner Rule #233: Every meeting to discuss promotion robs time from writing show to promote. But no promo, no show-mo. So go, yo?

Showrunner Rule #234: When you have 3 clues to get you to the same plot move, cut 2. TV is the most efficient art form since the haiku.

Showrunner Rule #235: Never forget that nothing really matters until the close up. Scenes that SUX in the wide, can sing in coverage.

Showrunner Rule #236: A staff is essentially a tribe. Choose well and survive the barren winter. Choose badly and starve before the thaw.

Showrunner Rule #237 (1of2) Page 42 is darkest moment in drama script. You’re miles away from “layup” cold open scenes and…

Showrunner Rule #237 (2of2) …plot which you and room never REALLY figured out, has just come home roost. #LuvTheGuyOnPage42

Showrunner Rule #238: Best feeling in the wide world, filling that plot hole on page 42 with something you discover on page 51. #TheGuyOnPage51

Showrunner Rule #239: Lead character is defined by X, which is why she does A, B, and C differently than any other character on television.

Showrunner Rule #239 Addendum: Please return to rule #226 as all iconic television is defined by that rule and that rule alone.

Showrunner Rule #240 (1of2): Demand staff ASK FOR HELP. Nothing worse than “me do” writer who insists on writing every word…

Showrunner Rule #240 (2of2): …then turns in shatty draft a day late. Job as producer is to PRODUCE & that may mean assists from others.

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.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter (@JeffLieber).

For all of the Showrunner Rules, go here.

Showrunner Rules from Jeffrey Lieber: Numbers 221-230

March 2nd, 2015 by

Jeff Lieber is a screenwriter and TV writer. His movie credits include Tuck Everlasting and he is currently an executive producer of the CBS series “NCIS: New Orleans”. 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 221-230:

Showrunner Rule #220: When on location, before going to sleep, figure out how shower works. Not something you leave for Monday at 5:15AM.

Showrunner Rule #221: 111 comes before 112 comes before 113, which is how you MUST set priority list. Always. and forever: Feed. The. Beast.

Showrunner Rule #222: Empower covering writer to CALL WHEN THERE’S AN ISSUE. Episodes ARE saved with, “So, we may have a problem here.”

Showrunner Rule #223: Single scene locations are production killers. Costs $ and you spend as much time loading in & out as shooting art.

Showrunner Rule #224: Moment your character lets audience know of a decision, arc is over. LOTTA ways to organically keep choice in flux.

Showrunner Rule #225: Feast on mythos like Yogi Bear with a pic-a-nic basket. Mythos keeps the loyal viewer from “I’ll just watch later.”

Showrunner Rule #226: Gotta write scenes for the sets ya built. Only have 2 walls? Limit movement & know you can’t have an angry face off.

Showrunner Rule #227: Cutting dialogue won’t solve board issues. Cutting COVERAGE will. Same scene with 1 less character will save an hour.

Showrunner Rule #228: Giving character NAME in script means better actor. After all, which would YOU rather be… Angry Janitor or Gerard?

Showrunner Rule #229 (1of2): Shows live in 3 concurrent timelines. What’s on the air… what’s being shot… what’s being broken…

Showrunner Rule #229 (1of2): …trick is to be making the same show in all three, even though rules may have changed as lesson are learned.

Showrunner Rule #230: Worst time to cast significant guest role? Pilot season (Feb-Mar), when every actor you want, wants their own show.

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.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter (@JeffLieber).

For all of the Showrunner Rules, go here.

Showrunner Rules from Jeffrey Lieber: Numbers 221-230

August 1st, 2014 by

Jeff Lieber is a screenwriter and TV writer. His movie credits include Tuck Everlasting and he is currently an executive producer of the CBS series “NCIS: New Orleans”. 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 221-230:

Showrunner Rule #221 (1of2) Page 42 is darkest moment in drama script. You’re miles away from “layup” cold open scenes and…

Showrunner Rule #221 (2of2) …plot which you and room never REALLY figured out, has just come home roost. #LuvTheGuyOnPage42 :)

Showrunner Rule #222: Best feeling in the wide world, filling that plot on page 42 with something you discover on page 51. #TheGuyOnPage51

Showrunner Rule #223: Every meeting to discuss promotion robs time from writing show to promote. But no promo, no show-mo. So go, yo?

Showrunner Rule #224: When you have 3 clues to get you to the same plot move, cut 2. TV is the most efficient art form since the haiku.

Showrunner Rule #225: Make peace with casting Game-O-Chicken. Actor WILL appear on the day, though your introduction may come AFTER action.

Showrunner Rule #226: Lead character is defined by X, which is why she does A, B, and C differently than any other character on television.

Showrunner Rule #226 Addendum: Please return to rule #226 as all iconic television is defined by that rule and that rule alone.

Showrunner Rule #227 (1 of 2): Demand staff ASK FOR HELP. Nothing worse than “me do” writer who insists on writing every word…

Showrunner Rule #227 (2 of 2): …then turns in shatty draft a day late. Job as producer is to PRODUCE & that may mean assists from others.

Showrunner Rule #228: When shooting outside LA, pick cool locations, ’cause given the amount of work, its ONLY way to see your host city.

Showrunner Rule #229: Never forget that nothing really matters until the close up. Scenes that SUX in the wide, can sing in coverage.

Showrunner Rule #229A: If you happen to be an actor who is “saving it” for the close, WARN ME. It’ll save everyone 4 hours of sheer panic.

Showrunner Rule #230: A staff is essentially a tribe. Choose well and survive the barren winter. Choose badly and starve before the thaw.

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.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter (@JeffLieber).

For all of the Showrunner Rules, go here.

Showrunner Rules from Jeffrey Lieber: Numbers 211-220

July 14th, 2014 by

Jeff Lieber is a screenwriter and TV writer. His movie credits include Tuck Everlasting and he is currently an executive producer of the CBS series “NCIS: New Orleans”. 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 211-220:

Showrunner Rule #211: Hire actors who play objectives not attitudes. And double hire actors who know how to shift tactics mid scene.

Showrunner Rule #212: Pick audition scenes < 2 pages, ’cause actors have it tough & learning lines just to be judged is a BRUTAL life.

Showrunner Rule #213: If there’s a holiday on Friday, Hollywood shuts down on Thursday… at lunch… if not before. ‪#Happy4thofJuly‬

Showrunner Rule #214: (1of2) Production trumps Perfection. Meaning… get your LP, PD and Other PD the damn outline and script EARLY…

Showrunner Rule #214: (2of2) …so they can work. Holding material for fear of being judged, means every decision gets made in panic mode.

Showrunner Rule ‪#214A‬: Rule 214 is super dooper helped when executives understand/appreciate rule 214. If they don’t… its some badness.

Showrunner Rule #215: Writers are like dogs, hard to teach new tricks once old & well trained/scarred by their owners in the puppy years.

Showrunner Rule #216: No matter how much you TRY to communicate to staff, you’ll forget something vital; like one of the sets burned down.*

(*Please note, no ACTUAL set on my current show burned down during the writing of the last tweet. Or if it did… I don’t yet know it.)

Showrunner Rule #217: Significant upside to location based show is that you’ll invariably get more done from hotel room than from office.

Showrunner Rule #218: Judge room by how fast/well story is broken compared to lone writer. Great rooms 1/2 the time. Bad rooms never finis–

Showrunner Rule #219: In case you ever wonder why you do the job (w/ the hours and disappointment), look around…

Nola Street II

Showrunner Rule #220: When on location, before going to sleep, figure out how shower works. Not something you leave for Monday at 5:15AM.

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.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter (@JeffLieber).

For all of the Showrunner Rules, go here.

Showrunner Rules from Jeffrey Lieber: Numbers 201-210

July 3rd, 2014 by

Jeff Lieber is a screenwriter and TV writer. His movie credits include Tuck Everlasting and he is currently an executive producer of the CBS series “NCIS: New Orleans”. 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 201-210:

Showrunner Rule #201: Don’t HOVER over your staff. They need to know its safe to talk… and vent… and worry… even if its about YOU.

Showrunner Rule #202: With every day a script/outline is late… quiet panic sets in. Same exact script ON TIME, gets 1/2 the notes.

Showrunner Rule #203 (1 of 2): Don’t let day end without stepping into every writer’s office and checking in. So they know…

Showrunner Rule #203 (2 of 2): …you haven’t forgotten them and you know they haven’t dipped into “what are we doing” despair.

Showrunner Rule #204 (1 of 2): Let the impermanence of white board be an analogy for the process. Words written easily unwritten or changed.

Showrunner Rule #204 (2 of 2): Also, when you post picture of the board online, make sure to blur so there are no spoilers. ;)

Showrunner Rule #205: Stories are all LINEAR (A to B to C to D) but you’re in control of order in which you REVEAL STORY (B to C to D to A).

Showrunner Rule #206: Little things matter a lot. Doing notes in BLUE instead of RED makes ideas feel like collaborations not edicts.

Showrunner Rule #207: INS/OUTS of scenes are opportunities for character amidst gack. If 1st line is plot, rethink.

Showrunner Rule #208: If you see the typo in this tweet in less then 3 seconds, you have what it takes to be a script coordinator.

Showrunner Rule #209: Figure out which phone calls don’t REQUIRE you & delegate. 15 minutes you save is 15 minutes you need… to pee.

Showrunner Rule #210: Never be shocked when smallest detail comes your way. Does character X wear her watch on left or right hand?

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.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter (@JeffLieber).

For all of the Showrunner Rules, go here.

THR Comedy Showrunner Roundtable

June 8th, 2014 by

Via THR:

How early is too early to talk about male ejaculate? As it turns out, 11 a.m. on a spring morning at the SmokeHouse restaurant in Burbank was as fine a time as any to address the appropriate stand-in synthetics for semen (hair conditioner is a must-have) and a myriad other topics at the top of the modern showrunner’s to-do list.

But also nestled inside this spirited gathering of top show creators — Maron‘s Marc Maron, 50; Silicon Valley‘s Mike Judge, 51; Mom‘s Chuck Lorre, 61; GirlsJenni Konner, 42; Orange Is the New Black‘s Jenji Kohan, 44; Parks and Recreation‘s Mike Schur, 38; and Veep‘s Armando Iannucci, 50 — were conversational gems that only further highlight the travails and delicate triumphs of minds behind television’s most successful series. From keeping their casts happy (hint: give them time off to make movies) to the too-personal storylines that have permanently severed relationships to their idolatry of drama writers, join in as this year’s top comedy contenders tell all.

Here is the full 1-hour plus discussion:

For the rest of the THR article, go here.

Showrunner Rules from Jeffrey Lieber: Numbers 191-200

June 21st, 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 191-200:

Showrunner Rule #191: Strange phenomenon that actors net/stud casting directors consider “gets” are known by general public as, “Wait, WHO?”

Showrunner Rule #192: Best moment in script is invariably dialogle-less. It’s the look, clue, image that ties whole episode together.

Showrunner Rule #193: Identify that moment on set when fixing a performance in post is more efficient then fighting to get it on the day.

Showrunner Rule #194 (1 of 3): Ideal staff = 3 people who can write the crap out of the show… 1 person great at covering set…

Showrunner Rule #194 (2 of 3): …1 person who can warm up cuts… 1 person who keeps room on task… & 1 person who just makes you laugh.

Showrunner Rule #194 (2 of 3): Everyone else… is gravy.

Showrunner Rule #195: Even when not ur FAULT, ur PROBLEM. 6 rainy days means 5 dropped strips? U get paid 2 figure out how 2 get’m shot!

Showrunner Rule #196: U gunna have to write the @#$@$@#$ finale. Cause its your show, sure, but also… cause everyone is running on fumes.

Showrunner Rule #197: If your agents are spending the day trying 2 get a rise outta someone else’s agent… make someone else’s agent yours.

Showrunner Rule #198: Can’t establish every color for character in pilot. Gotta get all the blue filled in before grabbing the red crayon.

Showrunner Rule #199: Procedurals tend to have A, B stories & a C runner. Soaps, maybe A-D (w/ an E runner.) Have an F story? You F’d up.

Showrunner Rule #200: 200 of anything… is probably enough. So, onto something new… soon. (Thoughts? Suggestions? Complaints?) — J

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.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter (@JeffLieber).

For all of the Showrunner Rules, go here.

Coming up soon: My interview with Jeff.

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.

Showrunner Rules from Jeffrey Lieber: Numbers 171-180

June 3rd, 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 171-180:

Showrunner Rule #171: Efficiency demands you delegate to room 1st. Clear room goals means they push ahead while you simultaneously catch up.

Showrunner Rule #172 (1 of 2): Should you need a touchstone for flawless television plotting, watch Breaking Bad, S1 E3, minutes 23 to 44…

Showrunner Rule #172 (2 of 2): …it’s Walter perseverating on taking a life & I don’t think it’s an overstatement to call it damn perfect.

Showrunner Rule #173: Have great handwriting? KEEP IT SECRET. Otherwise, 100% chance you’ll spend your days in room at board writing cards.

Showrunner Rule #174 (sneaky, 1 of 2): Every so often, when giving script to staff for input, add insane action (Bill vomits gnats*)…

Showrunner Rule #174 (sneaky, 2 of 2): …just to see who’s REALLY reading. (*Current example won’t seem insane on American Horror Story.)

Showrunner Rule #175: Quickly find crack staff member to oversee concept meetings, which are all logistics/decisions for LATER, and no art.

Showrunner Rule #176: Writing pilots is like drowning is possibility. All roads lead somewhere, but very few roads lead to “pick up”.

Showrunner Rule #177: You’ve slipped into lazy mode when header reads DINER. WHAT diner; where & why? These R the details that turns heads.

Showrunner Rule #178: Check rewrite drain 4 babies when emptying rewrite bath water. Over addressing notes as bad as not addressing at all.

Showrunner Rule #179: Every so often… go to the mall & listen to people talk. Ability to create real dialogue separates pros from pikers.

Showrunner Rule #180: Don’t allow outline to script until writer knows POINT of scenes. Not WHAT HAPPENS, but the FUNCTION within the whole.

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.

Los Angeles Times: TV Showrunner Roundtable

May 29th, 2013 by

Showrunners Alex Gansa of “Homeland,” Terence Winter of “Boardwalk Empire,” David Benioff of “Game of Thrones,” Glen Mazzara of “Walking Dead” and Vince Gilligan of “Breaking Bad” discuss how awards can help a show. Times’ editor Martin Miller moderates.

To see the entire hour-long session, go here.