Tag: show business

In Hollywood, even the most prosaic activities often involves a complex dance of priorities, rank, and egos. This week, Rob explains the complex politics and power moves behind setting a meeting time that works for everyone’s schedule. But that exercise pales in comparison to figuring out who is in what position on which project, which often requires an advanced degree in calculus to understand, but also why (according to Rob), you can get by just as well with good grasp of the concept of dithering.

In this week’s episode, Rob Long tackles the idea that entertainment is a risky business that takes a lot of intuition and nerve. Things are going to fail, and sometimes, weird long shots do pay off. But that doesn’t stop networks from using methods to try to predict what shows will and won’t be hits. Rob reminds all network executives that they are in the business of taking chances, and reveals the clever way studios mitigate risk by using a highly technical financial instrument: OPM — a.k.a., other people’s money. Okay, it’s not very technical and it’s not really an instrument either, but it does mitigate their risk.

This week, Rob give his notes on network notes. Some writers consider them the bane of their existence. Others carefully parse them like a detective at a crime scene for subtle clues that may (or may not) signal whether their script will move towards production. But what if your script receives the unusual but occasional “we have no notes” response? Well, that’s the dream, right? Rob explains why it may indeed mean you have turned in the perfect draft that answers all of the network’s questions and fears and your pilot is now on the fast track to the Production Promised Land. Or it may mean something more ominous….

As the entertainment business slowly becomes a form of television and everyone slowly realizing that the television business depends on the management skills and personal discipline of…writers, some show runners are finding themselves replaced at alarming rates. Rob — who has run a few shows in his time— has some words of encouragement and yes, advice for those people who find themselves in precarious employment situations. And in the process, talks himself out of a job. Oops.

In Hollywood, everyone is an artist. And as artists, they often feel they are entitled to a certain amount of eccentricity and perfectionism, including but not limited to having their cake and eating it too (metaphorically speaking).

Rob explains why managing “the talent” —which includes anyone who interacts with studio management— sometimes calls for techniques that are more commonly associated with calming infants. Or 19th century schizophrenics. Rob also reveals the strategy to winning any exchange involving talent, notes, deals, or even controversies that play out in the media. He guarantees it. Are you listening, Mr Chapek?

In Los Angeles, everyone’s in show business. Everyone.

There’s only one phrase a scriptwriter dreads more than “we love it, but we have some notes”: “we love it and have no notes.”

Rob discovers a WWII era psyops spy manual and realizes it is the perfect guide for disrupting the business practices of modern content companies. But —as a New Year’s resolution— he vows not to use the manual’s power for evil. For now.

Rob gives a master class in the unnecessarily complicated etiquette of wishing friends and family “Merry Chr…”, er, “Seasons Gree…”; uh, “Happy Holi…”. Well, you know what we’re trying to say.

Rob explains an immutable law of show biz physics: bad news travels slow because there’s no money in it, while good news travels fast –really fast– turbo-charged by the notion that money is about to be spent.

Preston Beckman was a network programmer at NBC and Fox for over 30 years. He brought the country “Must See TV” at NBC and was witness to the the start of the reality revolution when he was at Fox. Now, he’s retired and spends his days opining on Twitter about television, politics, and everything in between as his nom de plume, “The Masked Scheduler.”

In this Martini Shot Conversation, Beckman discusses the sweeping changes occurring to the business as it converts from broadcast to streaming and what it means to be a programmer in the 21st century. He also tells some hilarious stories from the olden days when broadcast networks ruled the airwaves, the culture, and the water cooler, and a 20 share could get you canceled.

Your podcast player has been Martini Shot-less for a while now, and Rob has a good reason for it. No, not a Hollywood writer’s excuse why the draft is two months late — he really does have a legitimate excuse for why you haven’t heard from him in a (pardon the expression) long time. Listen and find out. And yes, we’ll be back with another “Shot” next week. We promise.

Rob considers a mid-life career change, inspired by a couple of pilots that didn’t go forward and fridge full of exotic meats gone bad.

This week, Rob explains a simple axiom of show business: if you want your agents to remain generous with free expensive bottled water and delicious mini chocolate cakes, you have to earn it. Or more accurately, you have to earn for them.

Rob explains how he once got roped into picking up a very large check and offers advice on how you can avoid making the same mistake.

In most areas of show business, most people want more: more lines of dialogue, more scenes, and of course, more money. But Rob explains that if you want to heard more, follow his advice and say less.

Rob is dismayed to discover that the charismatic lead actor for his comedy pilot is being treated for a condition that required him to take medication that made the actor boring.

This week, we’re introducing a new feature to Martini Shot: The Martini Shot Extended Universe! OK, we’re not doing that — at least not yet. Instead, on occasion Rob will be talking to people in the entertainment business who he usually only talks about. Executives, other writers, journalists, maybe even actors.

In today’s  conversation, Rob sits down with Richard Rushfield, the impresario behind The Ankler newsletter, which regularly beats the Hollywood trades at their own game (and yes, you should subscribe). They discuss the recent purchases of Warners and MGM and what that portends for audiences, and why —according to Rob— the obsession many cable and phone companies have with owning studios is nonsense.

This week, Rob explains why lying is an integral part of the Hollywood ecosystem, and passes along a few pointers on how to do it successfully. Really. We’re not lying – that’s what this episode is actually about.