Still moping about my rejection notice from NBC's Late Night Writers Workshop. I pulled out the one essay question earlier, since it dovetailed so nicely with the SNL video they posted on-line. So, what the heck, while I'm at it, I'm just going to post all my various essay answers over the years. Maybe this'll force me to write brand new ones to the 4 or 5 questions they seem to rotate through each cycle. Maybe read them and avoid my pitfalls, whatever they may be...
The Final Entries
Previously on a Writer’s Journal’s Journey: I am introduced to a low-level producer who likes my stuff. A meeting is arranged…
So a few days later, I meet with Ralph Cooper, low-budget producer. My new contact, Bernadette, was there and some other guy (Joey Kato—who?) at Club USA. I have the barest of memories of being in this quiet bar on a Monday night. Cooper was very, very impressed with “Peking Duck.” And he’s willing to do whatever he has to do get Duck to his contacts, including cut a deal with Night Hawk Entertainment. Cooper feels his contacts are placed high enough and are anxious enough to see something from him that he has to act quickly.
Cooper thought a lot of himself.
As the 1994 went along, I wound up in a meeting with Chris Deluca, of the Staten Island writers group. He was producing a show(case) at the local Art Center, a comedy troupe he had pulled together, and he was looking for some material. Naturally, I inundated him with sketches. As it turned out, the show was “half my material, half Chris.”
I also started working on a rewrite of “Closed Set.” Nothing much else happened as August began.
A rare bit of my personal life slips into the journal as I note the passing of my father-in-law. He was taken out by a staph infection he got in post-op. It was a 3-week ordeal for him. Awful. A shock to all of us.
“So, of course, in the middle of all that, things start happening, writing-wise,” I write. It’s late June and a place called Hawk Entertainment loved my “Peking Duck” script and wanted to show it to money people. He asked for 3 more scripts, “Ghostwriter,” “Closed Set” and “Kringle Project” to send to other partners. I tell Hawk that Kevin has “Kringle” under option. Hawk asks if I’d call Kevin to see if they can work something out.
It's now March 1994 and I'm just treading water: Sending out the book material to some publishers, exchanging scripts with my online friend, Getting feedback from the producing wonder, Sheri Upbin.
Whatever I sent her she "loved!" Oh, I do note what I sent, some relationship sketches I did with John Rawlins, my former frequent cowriter, as part of the "So You Wanna Get Married" revue that never went anywhere. As for Upbin, we were still deep in the "getting to know you" phase.
It would be over two months and a new year before I made another entry. January 10, 1994.
Mailing out query letters to agents. Starting a new script about a Christmas pageant.
I only mention it in the journal in passing, but I joined a new on-line writer's BBS, PAGE. It was a place created after the WGA West shut down its bulletin board system. I met a young man Aron Abrams. Funny writer. Sharp. We seem to have the same comic sensibilities. Plus, it was writing for the then-current incarnation of National Lampoon; a website. He suggested I submit some material, so I dug some stuff out of the files and submitted. The rest is a wrap of listing of names, old and new, that I had seemed to be touching base with.
My next journal entry is one of two made in in September. And I'm blue here.
It turns out I did send Herb Sargent the material after the whole WGAE dinner kerfuffle. He doesn't know if he got it (He gets lots of mail, doncha know). He did recall talking to the other guy, Jay, but wouldn't give me an inch or the slightest acknowledgment.
Money woes. Finishing "Closed Set" but didn't know what to do with it next. My rejection from MAD magazine finally made its way back to me after a year. I was just deeply lamenting my fate; my "break" was a non-repeatable fluke. I hadn't built off of it. Kevin Brown was now off on his own. "Bleakness envelopes me" (C'mon, the kid can write!).
The agent Robbins sent me notes on my sideline Seinfeld script (which was my script "Dashing Dan and is now cleverly retitled "Dashing Kramer"). More visual elements! But Seinfeld's company will see it!
On the Writers BBS, I see a post by SNL writer Eliot Wald that SNL will look at material but only from agents so I get Agent Howle to submit them for me. Also from the WGA BBS, I meet Barry Stargatz, writer of "Married to the Mob," produced by Simon & Toddman. I emailed him privately and he confirmed that Simon & Toddman were "menschen." In fact, he mentions, he was working on a project with them at that moment.
And so endth July...
I didn’t write an entry for eight days. I even admit in the first sentence that I should have written sooner, while it was fresh in my mind. But, I reviewed the WGAE Awards dinner, nonetheless. “It was either good or horrible.” At the conclusion of the evening, we on the committee felt really up about it and thought it went well (not counting that jerk Herb Sargent cancelling the second skit while the first was in progress). We learned later that our committee director got intense negative feedback the next morning. It wasn’t clear if it was a lot of negative feedback or just from the V.I.P.s. Or just a lot from one person. But certain people hated it.
Into February ’93, “my” “agent” Robbins read my Seinfeld spec and liked it enough for me to rework it a bit. He said he could get it to the Seinfeld company (“It’ll be nice getting rejected by a higher level of talent”). I even decide to take my “Dashing Dan” script and convert it into a Seinfeld episode. Nothing like over-doing it at the slightest evocation. Additionally, I decided to pull out some scripts and submit them to some comic company, two things I had co-written with John Rawlins (our radio script “Capt. Useless” and a pilot we pitched to the “Galaxy Ranger” folks, “Tech-Mech”).
Freelance writer, still hacking away.