I've been informed that the WB Writers' Workshop has announced that they will be accepting submissions from May 1 - June 1. This is one of the more sought-after TV writing programs and it includes lectures and simulated writing rooms. At the end of the program, studio executives help the participants get staffed on Warner Bros. shows. When I interviewed Margaux Froley, she talked about some of this.
So I'm thinking of entering, but I've got some hesitation because the spec I'm working on is what you'd call a "gimmick spec." I could define what that is, or I could let TV writer/fellow blogger Irwin Handleman do it for me:
That's where someone will write an original episode of "Family Ties", or
an episode of "Two and a Half Men" where Charlie Sheen's character
stabs Alan or gets addicted to crack. In other words, it's something
that would never be on TV, but it's funny and a little more creative.
think of this kind of spec as cheating. Anyone can do this nonsense.
The hard thing to do is write a real episode of "Two and a Half Men" and
make that funny and original. That takes talent! It's easy to step
outside CBS and make a crazy episode that doesn't have to conform to the
restrictions of TV.
But as time went on, assholes kept getting
work off this bullshit. So I decided, if you can't beat them, join them.
And I wrote a gimmick spec.
Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the
Sunset Strip" had just started up. Thus, I wrote a spec called "Studio
69 on her Landing Strip", which was the porn version of that show.
sent it to a friend to read. Unbeknownst to me, he gave it to a manager
at Brillstein Entertainment. The manager loved it, and called me in.
Irwin ended up having a manager sign him off that script. So you see why I might some merit in the idea, even though I kind of agree with him that going the gimmick route is cheating somewhat.
I've heard of other infamous examples of gimmick scripts, such as an episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy gets an abortion, or an episode of Friends where they all get AIDS, or an episode of Saved By the Bell where Lisa and Screech have sex.
Bottom line: I'm working on one such spec of a hit show, but I'm concerned it might be too much of a risk to submit it to WB. While I mull that over during the next month and a half, I figured I'd toss the question out here in the hopes that someone might have some insight.