Showrunner Rules from Jeffrey Lieber: Numbers 261-270

July 16th, 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: 261-270:

Showrunner Rule #261: Write for the episode you dream of. Rewrite for the budget and circumstances you’re faced with.

Showrunner Rule #262: When they hand out ear plugs, things are about to go BOOM. #WeJustHandedOutEarPlugs

Showrunner Rule #263: When forced to cut for time, look at action scenes. Few secs won’t be missed & shorter cuts makes for > energy anyway.

Showrunner Rule #264: On net shows “hiatus” is a misnomer. W/ super short turn around & decisions that MUST be made, its more a ‘half-atus”.

Showrunner Rule #265: The sight of “second lunch” is like a oasis in the desert… and a sign you’re miles from the promise land.

Showrunner Rule #266: Lots of depts promoting your show, some of which may not know what’s up in writers room. Watch/read EVERYTHING.

Showrunner Rule #267: Be there for last catered meal of season. They serve the best food… so you’ll remember & rehire for next year. :)

Showrunner Rule #268: Be loving to rare executive who forgives when you speak out loud that voice that should stay locked in your head.

Showrunner Rule #269: At end of episode pitch, you should be able to easily identify 3 scenes that will comprise the “trailer”.

Showrunner Rule #270: Goal is to deliver the show at budget # – one cent. Over is bad. Under is bad. Don’t use, you lose it going forward.

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 251-260

July 15th, 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: 251-260:

Showrunner Rule #251: By end of season, when everyone’s exhausted… split scripts. 26 pages ‘steada 52 is sweet manna from Heaven. #Amen

Showrunner Rule #252: From temp ADR recorded in editing to one sentence email about new character, never forget: YOU’RE ALWAYS SELLING.

Showrunner Rule #253: Act outs & story lines: you control. Normal human frailty that WILL disturb set: out of your hands & sometimes fatal.

Showrunner Rule #254: Space between WHAT & WHY is the “maddening divide”. Ratings go down, because TOO MUCH experimentation or NOT ENOUGH?

Showrunner Rule #255: Trait of great writer… ability to set written script aside & re-imagine story. Pages ARE THERE, so… no panic.

Showrunner Rule #256: Insist on a NO HEROES policy. Hiding frailties so as not to upset me is 10,000% worse then not getting the job done.

Showrunner Rule #257: If you kill 3 people & have hubris to do interviews about them, know exactly how a lapel microphone works.

Showrunner Rule #258: (Failed) When on set, learn difference in shade between hotel MOUTHWASH & SHAMPOO… else you will have the yuck.

Showrunner Rule #258A: For the record, at my hotel, the mouthwash is greener (in a pickle relish way) and translucent.

Showrunner Rule #259: (also failed) When on set after LONG absence, remind yourself: if U C camera lens & they’ve called action, thats BAD.

Showrunner Rule #260: Filming is glamorous, as proven by sitting in an under-house video village, occupied suspicious rodents & random toilets.

Showrunner Rule #260 (Addendum): Filming is STILL glamorous, as proven by TODAY’s swanky location. #WeFoundItThisWay

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 241-250

July 14th, 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: 241-250.

Showrunner Rule #241: When shooting outside LA, pick cool locations, ’cause given the amount of work, its ONLY way to see your host city.

Showrunner Rule #242: Never think, “Today’s an easy day.” NEVER! If you do… 100% of the time, the TV piraña will jump up & bite your ass.

Showrunner Rule #243: The heartbeat of a script should be obvious by page 5. If it isn’t clear (and subtle is fine) go back and rebreak.

Showrunner Rule #244; Remind regs that while this may be their 80th time doing “this scene,” it is guest casts first. No fucking around.

Showrunner Rule #245 (1of2): TV is truly a “forest through the trees medium”. The little stuff you obsess upon (& should obsess upon)…

Showrunner Rule #245 (2of2): …is so much < important than PRIMAL CHOICES. What’s your drive, who’s your character. Headlines always win.

Showrunner Rule #246: Keep writer close during edit. She/He was on set… knows dailies… will be able to find that “all is not lost” take.

Showrunner Rule #247 (1of 2): Unavoidable tension between writers & episodic director. Former knows show’s intentions and deep history…

Showrunner Rule #247 (2 of 2): …latter wants freedom to do what. Difficult balancing act to make collaboration work for both parties & show.

Showrunner Rule #248: Think of script as “what you’d take in a fire.” Write down what’s ESSENTIAL, everything else will just weigh you down.

Showrunner Rule 249: Let the moon be your inspiration, ’cause you can get pages out at 11PM or 4AM, but 9-6 – the day – never gonna happen.

Showrunner Rule #250: Sometimes key to finding scene is mining early takes… before director started directing & actor abandoned instincts.

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 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.