Jen Grisanti: I think that if there were an exact science as to what will hit, then writers would be making it all over the place. I think really, I’m going to tell you from being a studio executive for the number of years that I was and still being a writing instructor at NBC and studying pilots and knowing that Hollywood doesn’t know exactly what’s going to hit, they are throwing it out there and praying that Middle America is going to show up. And I think if you were to survey a bunch of studio executives at the beginning of each season and say what shows do you think are going to be the breakout hits versus what shows are already, it’s hit or miss.
“Hollywood doesn’t know exactly what’s going to hit, they are throwing it out there and praying that Middle America is going to show up.”
Like when you take a show like TRANSPARENT, I’m sure there were so many doubts about that show, would it hit? Yet we take someone like Jill Soloway who did SIX FEET UNDER and you know that she has a track record and you know it’s based on emotional truth and you look at the current climate in the world and everything just happened together. I think that happens a lot. I definitely think there are shows that the first season blows peoples minds and so therefore all the expectation isn’t on the second season and that is a large expectation.
Film Courage: So you’ve seen that a lot where the first season is amazing and for some reason the second season falls short?
Jen Grisanti: Yes!
Film Courage: Is that because the writing becomes stale or it’s not clear?
Jen Grisanti: I believe that is because the series concept wasn’t set up in a strong enough way to understand what season two, three and four will be and I’ve seen shows…say for example LOST. LOST was developed oddly enough at Spelling [Entertainment Group] even though it went to ABC because the writer…Spelling was going to do it with ABC but then the writer Spelling had, the script didn’t come in the way that ABC wanted it so they got Damon Lindelof and J.J. Abrams who had overall deals there.
Now LOST, to my understanding, did not have a clear sense of what the show was going to be beyond the first season and it worked. And that was okay because the concept was set up in a strong enough way that we cared and we wanted to return and the way it evolved each season was mind-blowing because we were with them. The set-up of the series arc
was strong enough even though there wasn’t clarity on what the other seasons were going to be versus other shows where you could feel that they had one really strong season in them and are they going to be able to keep up with that? And I think the mistake that is made that leads to the show not succeeding is that season two goes too far away from the core concept that was set up.
Question for the viewers: What TV show disappointed you the most in Season 2?
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ABOUT JEN GRISANTI:
As a Current Programs Executive, I was exposed to the entire creative process, which means I know what the studio wants, what the network looks for and what kind of material you need in order to get hired. I have read over 8,000 scripts and given notes on most of them, so I know how to make a script the best that it can be.
In addition to Aaron Spelling, other great mentors I’ve worked with include, Glenn Gordon Caron, Barry Schindel, E. Duke Vincent, Ira Behr, Ken Sanzel, Mara Brock Akil, John Eisendrath, Jorge Zamacona, Brad Kern, Chuck Pratt and Brenda Hampton.
Over the years, I have developed numerous industry relationships with successful writers, directors and executives who have supported me along the way. You can see some of their testimonials here.
In August of 2008, I was hired by NBC to be the Writing Instructor for their program, Writers on the Verge. This is a 10-week program focused on polishing writers’ material and readying the participants for the staff writer position on a television series. Classes concentrate on creating an exceptional spec script and understanding the dynamics of pitching oneself in the television industry.
Since I launched my company in January of 2008, I have worked with over 500 writers, made up of half TV writers and half feature writers as well as 10 novelists. Twenty of my writers have sold pilots and two have gone to series. I have helped several writers to sign with top agencies including UTA and CAA, I’ve helped over 40 writers get staffed. I also worked with a feature writer on a script that is currently being produced with huge names attached. Additionally, many of writers I am working with have made it into writing programs as well as placed at high levels in writing competitions.
In June of 2009, I was invited to be a blogger on The Huffington Post.
Most of all, I absolutely love what I do. I enjoy working with writers and approach the process with care, experience and passion. It is imperative to me that both the writer and the story are honored as a script develops. In an industry that is generally too busy to give anyone personal attention, I will give it to you. With me, you get your own Personal Executive guiding you every step of the way.
LEFT ON PURPOSE – Midway through the filming of a documentary about his life as an anti war activist, Mayer Vishner declares that his time has passed and that his last political act will be to commit suicide— and he wants it all on camera. Now the director must decide whether to turn off his camera or use it to keep his friend alive. Left on Purpose is an award winning feature length documentary that confronts the growing issues of aging, isolation and end of life choices through an intense character driven story of the relationship between filmmaker and subject. With humor and heart it provides a rare cinematic look at what it means to be a friend to someone in pain.
THE SPECIAL NEED: Enea is 29. He has blue eyes, likes trucks, and loves girls. He hasn’t found the right one yet. Still he has never stopped looking for her. One more thing about Enea: he is autistic. One day, after taking a photo of a girl on the bus, he is pushed to the ground by her boyfriend. Enea’s therapist convinces his mom that the time has come for the man to cope with his sexual desires. Enea’s friends Carlo and Alex get involved and try to find a way for Enea to have sex in a safe and legal environment.
PROBLEMSKI HOTEL: For the inmates of the multinational residential center somewhere in Europe, the circular, black comedy that is the cross-frontier migrant’s life ‘within the system’ becomes even blacker in December. For we are in the European ‘season of gladness and joy.’ Bipul doesn’t want to admit it to himself, but the Russian girl’s arrival makes a difference: Lidia. Hope? Surely not! A future? Get real! December is also the ninth month of Martina’s pregnancy. Pregnancies don’t go round in circles; they end in eruptions. Because when the situation is hopeless, rescue is near.
SURVIVING SKOKIE: They survived the horrors of the Holocaust and came to America to put the past behind. For decades they kept their awful memories secret, even from their children. But their silence ended when a band of neo-Nazi thugs threatened to march in their quiet village of Skokie, Illinois “because that is where the Jews are.”
Surviving Skokie is an intensely personal documentary by former Skokie resident Eli Adler about the provocative events of the 1970s, their aftermath, his family’s horrific experience of the Shoah, and a journey with his father to confront long-suppressed memories.