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Awful Sitcoms 13 - 15: BABIES TEETHING

As part of their #ComedyPlayground contest, NBC will begin accepting sitcom pitches from their viewers beginning May 1. Each day until then, I will pitch the network three new ideas that I believe just might be the worst thing they read this summer.  
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Dear lords of NBC and protectors of the realm, 

Please give some serious thought to the following three ideas.  The selector of today’s theme, Victor Quinaz, believes that NBC audiences are waiting for one thing: shows about BABIES TEETHING. I couldn’t agree more. 

13.) Dear God, Someone Help Us 
Meet the Levensons: a family of babies. They are your typical American household, except for one thing: Mr. and Mrs. Levenson are both newborns who somehow gave birth to and are inexplicably tasked with raising three children who are ALSO newborns! Watch as this oddball family helplessly lays about the house screaming and just feeling awful.  Each week, the gang must face a new question like “what is happening to my body?” and “who is that and does she have food in her breasts?” 

14.) GUMS
Four women living in Brooklyn attempt to navigate the tough lessons of starting a career, finding love, and living without teeth. After her umbilical chord is cut, Holly a self-centered infant and wannabe writer moves in with her best friend Marie, a beautiful but frighteningly frail 90-year-old waitress. These toothless-somethings are joined by Jemma, a well-traveled meth addict who crashes with her younger cousin Sherona, a gratingly naive felt puppet. Together they learn that growing up is tough.  And popcorn is pretty much impossible.

15.) Big Time Small Talk
Alex Parker is a high-powered ad exec with a mouth the size of a penny.  In his world, image is everything and fortunes are won and lost on the strength and beauty of words.   Too bad for for Alex, he can only fit a few words at a time through his fragile rice teeth and horrid microscopic lips. But with the help of a take-no-bull secretary, a snarky overweight best bud, and his own (over)active imagination, Alex is able to leave even the toughest clients asking “How is he so good? And how the hell does he even eat with that thing?”     

Awful Sitcoms 10-12: SPACE EDITION

As part of their #ComedyPlayground contest, NBC will begin accepting sitcom pitches from their viewers beginning May 1.  Many of these pitches will be very bad.  Mine will be the worst.  I promise.   
image Dear gods of men at NBC,

Please accept the following star-making pitches on theme of life’s greatest mystery: THE COSMOS.  Thanks to Andy Cobb for choosing today’s provocative theme.     


10.) Captain Crybaby 
A crew of space explorers struggles to navigate the galaxy in a ship captained by a cranky, woefully inexperienced human infant.  Each week, the team attempts to survive a new threat - asteroids, black holes, Kuglari space pirates - all while wondering: where is the captain? Has he gotten into a cupboard somewhere?  What does he have in his mouth?  What the hell does he have IN HIS MOUTH!??   
   
11.) Our Son, Zarclar  
When a tiny comet crashes into their home, The Johnson Family discovers Zarclar, a little alien dude with a cool attitude. Charmed by Zarclar’s sense of humor and sound life advice, they disguise him with backpack and pair of shades, and enroll Zarclar at the local elementary school. There he is immediately discovered, captured, and damned to a life of painful experiments in a military lab. Each week, the Johnsons take on a new challenge  - winning little Becky’s science fair, having Mrs. Johnson’s pompous boss over for dinner, and facing the quiet haunting question “what have we done?” 

12.) Planet Jeff
One day, Jeff, a pizza delivery guy who just can’t do anything right, falls off his delivery bike and lands in a portal to another planet. This planet is just like ours, except here Jeff is The Man!  Each week, Jeff is inundated with invitations to sweet parities, beautiful women who totally want to hook up with him, and a crew of cool guy friends who just can’t get over how buff Jeff is. “Buff Jeff,” they call him.  But little does Jeff know: he hasn’t gone anywhere. Jeff is in a coma.   

Do you love these? Yes you do.  cj@cookiepig.com 

Awful Sitcoms 7-9: PETS

NBC has invited viewers to pitch their best ideas for sitcoms starting May 1. Every day until then, I will be pitching the network my worst.  I hope they make your lunch more pleasant.    
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Dear captains of fate at NBC:

Please accept these three shining ideas for shows on the theme of PETS. Thanks to Payman Benz for suggesting todays theme - one that has not been sufficiently explored on TV in over 30 years.     

7.) Buddy and Bull 
A classic 1950’s boy-and-his-dog story about the Connor family, and their devoted pup, Buddy. A German Shepard with a nose for police work, Buddy lends a hand to his owner Bull Connor, the jolly and vigilant police chief of Birmingham, Alabama. Forget Timmy stuck in the well, or a school bus teetering on the edge of the creek; this town has bigger problems! Whether it’s an elderly black woman attempting to vote, a group of students peacefully marching for equal rights, or an interracial couple just holding hands somewhere, no troublemaker escapes Buddy and Bull. With a big heart and a firm bite, Buddy reminds us all that sometimes crime needs to be nipped right in the butt, then mercilessly sprayed with a hose, then jailed indefinitely.  


8.) My Two Dads (one of whom is a Tarantula) 
Kim, a teenager desperate to fit in, moves to a new town. Everything is going perfectly until the town learns about Kim’s “non-traditional” parents. Can Kim make friends and find her place in this small Houston suburb where everyone - with their perfect lawns, expensive cars, and cookie cutter families - is as homophobic as they are terrified of deadly spiders? Kim’s father, Mark (the one who is a Tarantula) tries his best to make Kim happy.  He signs up to coach the girls soccer team, he joins the PTA, and even starts wearing clothes (a tiny suit and a pair of glasses stolen from a lego man) to his job as manager at the local auto plant.  But Mark can’t do anything right; he scares away the other soccer teams, he get’s caught in fine crevices of the factory’s machines, and he is shunned by the homecoming planning committee who refuse to listen to a spider (especially one married to a man). Through it all, Kim learns that nobody’s family is “normal,” and that maybe fitting in was made for those too boring to stand out.    

9.) Chipper 
Chipper, the class Chinchilla in Mrs. Tupperby’s homeroom, is no ordinary class pet. Thanks to a chemistry experiment gone wrong, Chipper is gifted with superhuman intelligence and the power to fight crime. This little super rodent is the only thing standing between the students of Ridgedale Middle School and the bullies in the halls, addicts in the parking lot, and the spiraling corruption of a faculty staffed exclusively by prominent members of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. If only Chipper had the strength to escape from his cage! Each week, our hero attempts to spring into action, but get’s tired and overheated from the slightest movement, and retreats to his little cardboard house to take a dust bath and hate himself. From his cage, cursing his useless powers and intelligence, Chipper watches helplessly as his beloved students throw away their lives, and the city of Detroit slowly burns itself to the ground.   

Interested?  I will sell each of these ideas to you for $50 million.  cj@cookiepig.com 

Awful Sitcom Pitches 4-6: SECOND CHANCES

In preparation for NBC’s #ComedyPlayground, here are three new pitches for shows that should never be made.
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Good people of NBC, I proudly present to you three new brilliant series on the theme of second chances  

4.) Life is Sweet 
A KitchenAid blender, having spent her life gleefully mashing and destroying fruit, falls off the counter and breaks. To her surprise, she is reincarnated - this time as a large bowl!  Each week, she is entrusted with fruit that she must learn to hold, nurture, and watch as it grows old. Maybe that crotchety old banana was right after all; maybe life “only gets sweeter.”  

5.) The Domino Effect 
An optimistic young CEO comes into a failing pizza company with an unthinkable idea: let’s stop making our pizzas out of actual street garbage. Caught each week between skeptical customers, a rowdy crew of half-stoned delivery workers, and one high-maintenance restaurant chef who inexplicably works on the chain’s “pizza formula”, our CEO learns that maybe the recipe for success is 2 parts teamwork and 45 parts garlic butter.  

6.) Music to My Ears 
After throwing his lucky coin into a wishing well, Marcus, a twelve-year-old boy is magically transported back to the night of his big third grade recorder concert (the one before Dad left).  In this family comedy, Marcus gets a second chance to play a rendition of “Hot Crossed Buns” so good that it just might remind his father that a family is a pretty neat thing to have after all.  
Interested? Get in line. cj@cookiepig.com

Awful Sitcom Pitches 1-3: ODD COUPLES

As previously mentioned on this blog, NBC is having a contest beginning May 1 in which viewers pitch the network on new sitcom ideas.  As practice for a real pitch, I will spend the next 15 days pitching NBC three new ideas a day - each for awful sitcoms (#shitcoms) that I pray they never make.  Chances are, the network will never read these ideas.  But I hope you will.   

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Dear NBC,
Below I present to you three ideas for shows about wacky lovable roommate combinations.  Please consider for your 2014 fall lineup. 

1.) Jessie and The Bees 
After a divorce, Jessica, a wry 30-something blogger, moves into a small Brooklyn apartment to take a second shot at life and love. Too bad the only roommate she can find is a swarm of killer bees. What’s harder: finding love in a city of 8 million or getting to the kitchen without being stung to death by the thousands of bees that inhabit your home?
 
2.) Growing Together 
Jack and Jake are twins.  Hilarity ensues when these brothers - one a nebbish neat freak and the other a wild lady-hungry partier - are forced to spend 9 months together inside their mother’s womb.  Whether it’s space, attention, or a limited supply of fetal nutrients - these brothers aren’t coming out without a fight. 

3.) I’m Watchin You 
Four god-loving Obama-hating militia men must share their Arkansas compound with an unwelcome guest: a book.  Each week, the men scramble to prepare for the inevitable war against the government - all while trying to guess what might be inside that goddamned book, and whether or not it’s one of those “fag books.”   

Interested? Of course you are. Email me at cj@cookiepig.com

Why you should pitch to NBC

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You may have heard that NBC is officially inviting viewers and aspiring television writers to pitch them ideas for a new sitcom.  Here’s a great Entertainment Weekly article to get you caught up.

Termed the "NBC Comedy Playground," the contests works like this: 

  • Writers will submit their idea via an NBC site set up for the contest. 
  • The network  will choose up to 10 finalists and fund each one to produce a pilot presentation based on their pitch.
  • From the 10 finalists, two winners will be selected, paid, and given a chance to broadcast their pilot on NBC. 

It’s easy to be cynical about this.  Immediately, I wonder to what extent this is a big publicity stunt or attempt to poach ideas from content creators who are turning away from TV and toward the web.  There is also a pride swallowing that happens as I picture working hard on a pitch that gets lost amid a large noisy seas of submissions from “writers” like that guy my dad works with who’s always saying “I’m telling ya there needs to be a show about horny alien party girls.”  

Nonetheless, I’m going to enter the content and I believe you should do the same. Why?  Because you’re a writer, and this contest is practice. Practice is the only way you get better, and it is simultaneously the thing that scares you most.  You find reasons to avoid practice - reasons not to go up on the Wednesday open mic, reasons not to submit to McSweeney’s, reasons not to write that sketch show you’ve been dreaming about.  Next time. 

No one is going to know if your idea is dumb.  No one is going to care if you are one of the millions who don’t get picked by NBC (hell, they are only picking two).  But the work of actually crafting a pitch for this competition is what will make you a better writer.  And the act of committing to put your work out there this time, will make it easier to do it the next.  Winning long shot contests like this is rare.  But entering them is the kind of reminder we all need to keep making and releasing work that could very well suck.   

Everything is practice.  

If you’re all about this and you want someone to nerd out with about sitcom formula, favorite shows, and writing resources, email me: cj@cookiepig.com 

Where I’ve Been: Sunken City

Haven’t been blogging in a while, because we’ve been releasing our show, Sunken City.  Thanks to our backers, friends, and the very talented people of The New Movement, we have a 9-episode first season.  Through March we’re dropping a new episode every Monday at 8am.  Below is a trailer and little video from me and Kyle.  We’re already on Episode 3.  Go get caught up right this goddamned minute.  

What did you make today? 8/28

Today I wrote for: 
2 Hours
7pm - 9pm @ Hotel
I am in Hawaii visiting some family.  I am using the down time as an excuse to hole up and write. 

What I made:
Changes to Episode 2 and 6.  These changes were slight but important because they feed the question “why?”  As I am watching great shows, I notice that whenever a character makes a big decision, we usually understand it.  This is because the writers have been laying the groundwork for that character’s “why” for multiple episodes.

What I’m thinking about:
Action.  What is the action of this episode?  I watched the Sunken City pilot again tonight and it felt like reading one of your old college term papers.  I am proud of the product, but our writing at the time was fat and expositional - perhaps the way pilots often must be.  I want the season to feel lean and sleek and explosive.  Action.  Not explanation.     

What did you make today? 8/19 

Today I wrote for: 1 Hour
I need to lock these writing hours down early to make sure they happen. It should be like brushing your teeth.  

What I made: 
• Revision of two scenes in episode 3 
We are in our final rounds or revision, getting set to film next month.  Every time we touch the scripts they get tighter - so much so that they hardly resemble the season we thought we had ready to go when we kickstarted.  I remember Ryan pushing us to get tighter on the scripts and I am now seeing the payoff in the writing.  Huge learning process.  

What I am thinking about:
Have faith in your take.  
There are tons of ways to tweak and tighten a script or an entire season.  In a given day, a character or entire plot line can be scrapped.  But there is a core to the show that we chose - a type of humor, a perspective, a take on New Orleans and on comedy that is our own.  It is a nerve racking thing to be putting this show together.  However, I keep reminding myself: your take is great; have faith in it.  
 

What did you make today? 8/18

Today I wrote for 3.5 Hours
1:30pm - 5:00pm @ IL Posto

Making up for yesterday’s lack of writing.  I know I have spoken at length about what a great writing spot IL Posto is.  However, there is one thing I have yet to mention: they have wine.  I haven’t had any yet; coffee is my writing drink of choice.  But I am fantasizing about doing some evening writing there - sitting by a window, drinking wine, looking out on the rain.  

What I made:
• New scene for Ep 2.  
• Cuts for episode 2. 

Frustrating to spend 3.5 hours on one episode.  Again, I will push myself to move at a better pace next time.  Episode 2 is the hardest one to get right.  This is the episode that has the most pressure to be great.  It must also do the difficult balancing act of enabling newcomers to jump into the series, and still move the ball forward enough to thrill viewers who saw the pilot.  

What I am thinking about:
Destiny.
I saw the movie Elysium tonight (no spoilers).  Cool concept, but underwhelming movie.  In terms of story, I did not expect the movie to be so heavily about destiny.  Watching it, I thought to myself: what is it about the notion of destiny that is so compelling?  Every superhero movie is essentially the story of a man struggling to fulfill his destiny. There is something so universal and basic about the concept: I am meant to do something special in this world. 

I like looking at our characters from this perspective.  What is the destiny of your main character? Is theirs the story of searching for a path, or grappling with responsibility of actually having to walk that path once it’s found?