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Pitches, Pet Monkeys and Pizzas

People often ask me, “Paul, what’s going on with the TV version of Consumer Joe? I mean, you’ve been talking about that damn book for years and I’m getting a little sick and tired of pretending I’m interested this far out. I mean, seriously — isn’t it on remainder shelves by now? Behind the Far Side desk calendars from 1987?”

What if it is, huh?

The last couple of weeks have seen some nice progress in the quest to bring Consumer Joe: The TV Show to a network near you. The process has been intriguing, as we (me and my management) had partnered up with an un-named groundbreaking Executive Producer from TV and began our quest to network after network in an attempt to sell some of dem apples.

We are now deep in the throes of such a process.

If you’re new to the “pitching process” or have no idea how it works — let me give you a little insight. There are certain calendar-sensitive time periods in which you can (a) pitch a show, (b) sell a show or (c) film a show. Usually, starting in late May of the calendar year, networks start opening their doors to hearing pitches for primetime network and cable shows. If they buy your idea, and it’s a scripted network show, you’re usually writing the scripts during that Summer, getting them ready for the Fall.

It’s during the Fall that these pilot scripts make their way around town, and networks decide whether or not they’re going to pay the millions of dollars to shoot the Pilot. Casting and shooting the pilots usually take place starting in January of the Calendar year, and run through April or May — bringing us back to the pitching time of the year, after pilots have been shot, bought and picked up for a full or half season.

Cable, of course (and reality-type TV shows) are different.

Cable channels like TNT, TBS, Spike, A&E, Bravo, Comedy Central, VH1 and many more have no air-date schedule they need to stick to. If you pitch them in February and they love an idea, they’ll pay to have it made. They’ll air it whenever they want — but will try to stick somewhat to a season to introduce it (i.e., Fall, Summer, Spring, etc).

Pitching a network (or cable channel) is the process of sitting down with the Executives who can make decisions on buying shows, and wow’ing them in no more than 10 minutes.

Yes, it’s a nervewracking process.

It often reminds me of my high school Spanish class. I remember we had to write a 2 minute essay in Spanish and memorize it and do it in front of the entire class. I remember that I had it down perfectly before I walked into my class. When I finally got there, my essay about going on a vacation with my family and my pets to Florida was suddenly translated into an essay about going to the tire hill and eating pipes of glue.

Fortunately, after you’ve got down your hilarious, engaging, heart-palpitating pitch, and after you’ve done it a few times, it starts to become commonplace. The nervousness dissipates and it’s just all about feeling the room. Making them laugh. Convincing them that what you’ve got is the next great television show that’s going to make them money, get them press and change the world.

Of course, during the pitch — these people will not give anything away with their poker-faces and unmoving limbs. They will look at you, listen to you and thank you for coming. And then you will go off on your merry way and keep your fingers crossed.

Fortunately, you always get free water.

I like free water.

Free water is good.

I’d prefer a TV show based on a book written by yours truly.

But water is the life-blood of our planet and our existence, so really how can I scoff at such life-giving liquids being freely given out to ME.

I can’t. And I won’t.

In other news, yesterday’s “Words For Your Enjoyment” idea prize went to Chris who requested his hot delivery style pizzas ASAP. There was no waiting for this hungry WFYE’er, whose Oregon-made pizzas found their way to him last night. He even went so far as to document the entire process in a slideshow he calls “free pizzas good, monkeys & knives bad”. Watch at yer own risk.

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