MADE Legends Edition - Page 43

MADE: To start off, can you give us a rundown of your journey to success? up hiring me for The Good Wife so many years later. CK: Well, here’s the thing. Something interesting about that. It wasn’t smooth. I started a doctoral program in English at Columbia University. I left there after I got my Master’s and went into magazine journalism. When I was at GQ, I wrote an article about interracial dating. Two writers Chris Alberghini and Mike Chessler (who now run Awkward on MTV) - those guys read my article and wanted to turn into a TV show. We pitched that show at HBO when I knew nothing about TV and it didn’t go anywhere. But, what was nice is that I realized that’s what I wanted to do - I wanted to write for TV. I went back to New York, I worked at the J.Crew Catalogue (writing the catalogue) and I worked at Origins doing makeup and facials. I wrote and then I went back out for staffing season the next year. I got nothing. Went on a bunch of interviews, I had an agent at that time so I was very lucky because they are the same one I have now. I flew back. We laugh about this now, but I got an interview with the TV show Girlfriends and I flew back out the same night to meet with Mara Brock Akil, who didn’t end up hiring me. MADE: Understanding your journey, what three things would be key for young writers who are looking to pitch a television show? MADE: It definitely sounds like a rollercoaster ride. How did it pick steam? CK: [laughs] So, fail, fail, fail. I ended up writing a “spec” for Bernie Mac. That spec got me a meeting on The Bernie Mac Show. But in that interim, my (then) husband and I decided that I should move to California. Moved to California on June 16, 2004, and I got a meeting at The Bernie Mac Show in July of that year. A month later I had a pitch meeting there, and then they hired me. So in August of 2004, I started as a staff writer on The Bernie Mac Show. And then I got fired at the end of that season because I wasn’t very funny. And that’s okay, because that’s not what I was supposed to be doing. I wasn’t supposed to be doing comedy. I’m supposed to be doing drama. So, I wrote a spec for CSI, and that spec CSI got me a job on In Justice (which is was my first drama job for the Kings [Michelle and Robert King]). Robert and Michelle King ended CK: They have no business pitching a television show. I believe it so firmly. If you’re a young person, and you have not worked in TV, you have no business pitching a TV show. They will take the show from you and give it to a showrunner. You are not going to be able to run your show. You have to have experience. Although Power was the first show that I ever pitched, I’ve been working in the business for ten years before that happened. I had already reached co-VP level before this happened, so people seem to think that it’s just as simple like, “Oh, I have a great idea for a TV show.” First of all, a great idea doesn’t make a TV show. But second of all, they have no business (literally no business) pitching a TV show. If you are young, you don’t know what you’re getting into. You may or may not have the right protections in terms of agents and a team behind you. I see this happening all the time now with young people and then they’re all like, “What happened, what happened to my show? Now, I am unemployed.” So my three tips would be: Get a job getting coffee, get staffed on the television show and wait until you know enough to run it yourself. MADE: Anything else young writers should keep in mind? CK: I think that young writers need to constantly be writing. They need to have spec scripts of existing shows in their arsenal. They need to have pilots. But if someone wants to work for me, I don’t want to read your pilot. MADE: What was the biggest challenge that prepared you to be that fighter and work through it? CK: Ultimately, it’s a freelance business. So