Jon Collins Sends Up Bad Network Notes Beautifully

You know I love you, network superfriends… but my pal Jon Collins (a reality veteran and very funny guy) sends up notes from your less thoughtful colleagues just brilliantly here:

Update: The REMEMBER, WE’RE NOT HERE Podcast and Documentary Projects

The documentary and podcast are alive… ALIVE!

I’m finally realizing I can’t pull everything off that I’d like to without a little help, though… so if you might, for some reason, be in need of a shirt with my cheery mug emblazoned on it, here’s where you’d get one and support the effort.  

The REMEMBER, WE’RE NOT HERE Podcast and Documentary Project.

Reality Pro Tip: Tops n’ Tails

Several years ago, I worked on a show that shot a series of interviews in what we referred to in post as the “God chair,” a big red chair set against all-white background, shot with a diffusion filter.  The resulting effect made it seem almost as if our cast was addressing camera from the afterlife.   It was a creative decision that seemed like a great idea but ultimately didn’t pan out, and the decision was made to go back in and reshoot the interview content.  Problem was, it would take more than a week to try to wrangle everyone back in for interviews.

I went back into interviews from previous seasons to look for tops and tails that could be added to the interview content to give the editors something to show while the God chair content could be buried under picture.  Simple phrases, like “All I have to say about that is…” and “I can’t believe he just said that.”  Those phrases would be tacked to the top or tail of the God chair interviews to form phrases like, “I can’t believe he just said that. // This was an important day for me, and now it’s ruined” or “All I have to say about that is… // If she thinks she’s getting away with that, she has another thing coming.”

We actually managed to bury almost all of the God chair content by employing those tops and tails, and didn’t have to worry about doing pickups at all.  The scene-specific stuff still packed a wallop buried under picture, but the generic interview look from the past season served well enough to show who was speaking.  Best of all, it saved us a few hours of cast wrangling and reshooting.

MWP/Divine Arts Authors’ Summit

Yesterday marked another gathering of authors whose works have been published by the wonderful Michael Wiese.  It’s been nearly a quarter century since I first volunteered to man his book sales table at a Florida Motion Picture and Television Association state convention and bought Steven Katz’s SHOT BY SHOT; Now I have my own bestselling MWP title and find myself kneeling next to Katz in a group photo with pretty much every major speaker and author in the universe of how-to film and television books.

It was positively surreal, I can assure you.  But more than that, edifying and inspirational in unexpected ways.

'Swiping another shot from Jen... here's the whole bunch from yesterday's MWP/Divine Arts summit.  That fella next to me in front is Steve Katz, whose SHOT BY SHOT was one of the first MWP titles I ever bought... while volunteering at Michael Wiese's book table in Orlando, Florida at the FMPTA state convention in the early 90s.'
This is the first year I’ve attended since the addition of Divine Arts, Michael and wife Geraldine Overton-Wiese’s other imprint handling books on mind, body and spirit, came into being and joined the fold.  They’re more than two dozen titles in in just a few years, which is incredible.  It also made for an interesting day in a number of ways, in that the infusion of authors dealing with the spiritual into the day’s events that impacted me deeply on a level I didn’t expect to deal with at an authors’ gathering.

It’s a special thing to be an MWP author.  It’s a wonderfully no-bull bunch of people who know their business inside and out, and can somehow translate it all in a meaningful and inspirational way into materials for the generations following them into their professions.  I’ve read the books written to make a buck, and I’ve listened to the lecturers who have more ego and subjective opinion on display than knowledge.  Ours are different.  At least every one I’ve managed to read, right up to Catherine Ann Jones’ The Way of Story, which I picked up yesterday and am already about halfway through.

I’ve got to jump back into edit (yeah, I know it’s 5:30 on a Sunday), but wanted to share with you my sheer delight at being part of such a great bunch.

Great Television Bio.


Just took a second pass at the autobiography of my friend Chuck Fries. If anyone needs a good Spring read, here you go. It covers Chuck’s TV start in the early 50’s with ZIV to today, and it’s an astonishingly frank, engaging read.

Check it out HERE.

Coming Attractions: Live vs Live-to-Tape

You’ve heard me say that no reality show airs in real time the way something falls through a lens, but live shows… live shows are a whole different ball of wax.  DANCING WITH THE STARS, save for its produced packages, is as live as they come.  Ditto most live reality competition shows, like our competitor, THE VOICE and shows like AMERICAN IDOL and SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE.

Reunion specials are usually done live-to-tape, which means they’ll shoot for several hours and then whittle it down in post.

Live shows are produced from timed rundowns, meaning that we all know how long an act should be, how long a song runs, how long a super-awesome package about how Joe Blow designed his own guitar for his performance runs, and how much host chatter can be crammed into each act.  When something goes long, something else in the show has to get shorter.  Let’s say that Complainy Complainerton decides to explain how her  microphone crapped out during the big sing-off, and suddenly the show is running a minute over.  No worries, we’ll just air two of the alternate packages that were cut down from 1:45 to 1:15 and bingo, we’re on track again.

With live-to-tape, you often have the luxury of cutting as much as 4 or 5 hours of material down to make a jam-packed hour.  Packages that rehash old storylines are produced ahead of time, so if you want to show five minutes of material in a live-show taping, you can always do it and trim the package down later based on the conversation it starts on the reunion stage.

I’ll discuss producing for both types of “live” shows in depth later this week.  Cheers!

December LA Event TBA; Consulting Packages

I’m proud to share that a December reality seminar/workshop will soon be announced by the same genius promoter who’s handled me with the TV Writers Summit events these past few years.

While Ellen Sandler, Jen Grisanti and Chad Gervich — see — take the NYC by storm December 6-7, I’ll be spending the holidays in Merry Olde LA tying up loose ends and decompressing from a wonderful (and crazy busy) season of DANCING WITH THE STARS while I share this newly structured course perfect for beginners, mid-career pros and execs interested in learning more about crafting great story and making irresistible television.

I’ll also be offering some special consulting packages either for yourself or someone you know who’s interested in developing their reality concepts into viable treatments.  For the month of December only, packages range from $500 for three consult calls up to one hour (usually $200/hr) to $850 for a one hour consult and two revisions of your subsequent treatment draft.  Email me at realitytvtroy[at] for more details, and yes, gift certificates are available if you’re playing Santa.

After January 1, consults will return to the regular $200/hr fee and, if this year is like most others, I’ll be heading back to a new show… so jump on it!  There’s no time like the present to get yourself ready for the new year.

I Think (Not)

Working on Dancing With the Stars again has been a real treat, thought it’s certainly keeping me away from the blog.

Just wanted to pop by today and share a neat little thought on interviews courtesy of my pal Dan, another producer on the show.

We were having a conversation about good interview technique this week, and he offered up a great bit of advice that hadn’t occurred to me after a decade and a half of working on interview questions and conducting more than my share of “look at me, not at the camera” sit-downs.

“You know, I really don’t like it when people start a response with I think,” said Dan. He explained that he felt it diluted the certainty and oomph of the statement that followed.

The more I thought about it, the more I agreed.

Look at these two responses:

“I think Carol was at least twenty minutes late.”

“Carol was at least twenty minutes late.”

The second one’s undoubtedly more impactful, because it sounds so darn certain.  The wishy-washy first statement sounds a little unsure, as if it was maybe fifteen or twenty-five minutes.

The only time that “I think” could be useful is if you had some legally hairy content and your subject said something controversial, stating their opinion.  Then “I think” clarifies that it’s their position and not a statement of absolute fact. I’m no attorney, but I imagine that it could help get your powerful personal statement through legal/S&P.

Thanks, Dan!

Podcast Relaunch Date TBA

If you enjoyed the first five Remember, We’re Not Here podcasts, more are in the works, though the series in unlikely to relaunch until some point after Thanksgiving so I can stockpile ’em and get a new one out every week as I’d originally hoped to.

Thanks to guests Joey Ortega, Andrew Hoagland, Shelly Goldstein, Jon Collins and Carl Hansen for their installments posted so far. The new season kicks off with a joint interview with Eddie Pepitone (comic, actor and participant in Last Comic Standing) and Karen Simmons, story assistant for Basketball Wives and Basketball Wives LA.

Meanwhile, the old shows are still available HERE.

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