When Rolin Jones considers his television writing career — which started when somebody slipped a copy of his acclaimed 2003 play “The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow” to showrunner Jenji Kohan, who subsequently hired Jones to join the writing staff of “Weeds” — the L.A. native feels a debt of gratitude to those theater scribes who made good in TV land before him.
“At some point,” says Jones, “someone took a risk on a playwright, and that playwright delivered, and we should all get down on our knees and bow to that person.”
A Pulitzer finalist for “Jenny Chow,” which concerned an adopted girl searching for her birth mother, and Emmy nominee for the “Friday Night Lights” fourth-season episode “The Son,” Jones is bullish about producing good moments for actors (“they’re the ones turning your limp writing into something beautiful”) and not getting stymied by a seemingly familiar scene.
“It’s that little step to the left, or to the right, that makes it into something different,” Jones says.
Music is key to his process. Jones, who last wrote for “United States of Tara,” can’t begin writing until the right mood piece is blaring in his office: “I will play it in one of those horrific iTunes loops that drives anybody near me bonkers for the three or four days I’m hovering over something.”
Though he hasn’t abandoned theater, Jones — who has written pilots for HBO and Showtime and has partnered with fellow TV writer Ron Fitzgerald to develop projects — sees television as the real nexus for great dramatic writing.
“I’m a child of ‘The Wire’ and ‘Deadwood,’?” says Jones. “I want to do that.”
Rising writers take biggest step
Alex Cary | Whitney Cummings | Lena Dunham | John Enbom | David Hudgins | Rolin Jones | Kyle Killen | Chris Provenzano | Emily Spivey | Hilary Winston