Producers discuss challenges of biz at Variety gabfest
In the process of moving from features to the faster pace of TV “Person of Interest,” exec producer Jonathan Nolan discovered a surefire cure for writer’s block.
“You assign it to a co-executive producer,” Nolan said, drawing big laughs from the crowd gathered at the Writers Guild Theater in BevHills Tuesday night for Variety’s second annual Night in the Writers’ Room gabfest.
The sesh with drama scribes, moderated by Variety’s Stuart Levine, saw “Rescue Me’s” Peter Tolan and “House’s” David Shore revisit their rivalry from the 2005 Emmy derby, when Shore beat out Tolan in the drama writing category. Tolan regaled the audience with mostly unprintable comments about the Emmys and jabbed Shore by observing, “A limp is not a characteristic, by the way.”
“Person of Interest’s” Greg Plageman and “Suits” creator Aaron Korsh weighed in on the challenges of shooting in New York while running the writers room on the opposite coast. Discussing the upcoming season of “Breaking Bad,” Vince Gilligan dropped the tantalizing tidbit that viewers will be reading more subtitles for German dialogue than Spanish dialogue this time around. (To reinforce his point he added, “That’s an honest-to-god spoiler, right there.”)
The comedy sesh, steered by Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein, was no less lively. Jackie and Jeff Schaffer of “The League” and Mike Schur of “Parks and Recreation” shared advice for avoiding network interference by locating production offices “in neighborhoods that network executives are not interested in driving to,” as Jackie Schaffer said. “The Big Bang Theory’s” Steven Molaro drew envious grins by humbly noting that Chuck Lorre provides a protective shield against network notes.
Laura Dern and Mike White of “Enlightened” were effusive in praising the creative freedom provided by HBO. But it still took execs time to get used to the unique tone of their show.
“I wanted it to be elastic enough to for us to have satirical moments and funny moments and super-depressing moments and I-just-want-to-kill-myself moments,” White said with a grin.
Before the yakking commenced, Variety’s recently announced 10 TV Scribes to Watch writers were introduced to the crowd. Also, guests enjoyed specialty cocktails provided by Ciroc and perused a display of tablets and other digital wizardry from sponsor Motorola.