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Published: 5 years ago

Athletes as SNL hosts are no good

Today it was announced that Yankee’s A-Rod “turned down multiple overtures to host Saturday Night Live.
As he puts it:

I finally figured out to make the game the priority. Ultimately I am a baseball player. This is what I do best and what I should be concentrating on.

I say that’s very good news.
However, some people seem to disagree:

What???? How could that be? Doesn’t he know that hosting “SNL” is one of the perks of being a superstar New York athlete? Turning down the chance to host “Saturday Night Live” is like telling Oprah Winfrey, “No thanks, I’d rather not be on your show.” It’s just not done!

This might be a good analogy if you were an actor/actress, or an entertainer.
We’re here talking about a professional sportsman.
I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but I doubt many people enter pro sports to one day host SNL.
“Geez I wish I could meet Lorne Michaels… If only I had 14 gold medals. I bet that would be a good way to do it.“
Not only that, but if I were an athlete even remotely interested in this, I’d reconsider simply based on the fact that, you know, I can’t act.

Need I remind you peeps of the last time a sports guy hosted the show?

Reading from a teleprompter is not the same thing as being funny.
Even Christopher Walken knows that.

This trend has especially intensified these last couple of years with Peyton Manning, LeBron James, Michael Phelps, and, point out above, Charles Barkley (arguably one of the worst SNL host of all time).
As we already saw last September, the latest seasons’ hosts (save for a few) haven’t really been varied, or even good.
We should rejoice that an athlete turned down Saturday Night Live and save us eye-bleeds (even for the wrong reasons).

Published: 5 years ago

The latest about Marvel and DC Movies

From the recent weeks, it looks like we’re going to get a Marvel vs. DC movies war in the next few years at the box-office. Development news are quick and can be confusing, so here are all the latest wrapped in a neat little article, along with my two cents.

We start small (franchise-wise) with this an upcoming film based on a limited series created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner.
The movie, directed by The Time Traveler’s Wife’s Robert Schwentke and written by Whiteout’s Jon & Erich Hoeber is slated for a an October 22 release.
It stars Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malovickh, Karl Urban, Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss, Julian McMahon, James Remar, and Ernest Borgnine.
Now that’s a cast.

Red is the story of Frank Moses (Willis), a former black-ops CIA agent, who is now living a quiet life. That is, until the day a hi-tech assassin shows up intent on killing him. With his identity compromised and the life of the woman he cares for, Sarah (Parker), endangered, Frank reassembles his old team (Freeman, Malkovich and Mirren) in a last ditch effort to survive.

The Losers
Based on Andy Diggle’s comic book series of the same name, the Sylvan White-helmed pic was written by Peter Berg and Zodiac’s James Vanderbilt.
The film comes out next month (April 23), and stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba and Chris Evans.

Five members of an elite United States Special Forces team are sent into the Bolivian jungle. The men find themselves the target of a betrayal instigated from inside by a powerful enemy known only as Max. Believed to be dead, the group makes plans to even the score when they’re joined by the mysterious Aisha, a beautiful operative with her own agenda.

This sounds like opposite–A-Team.

Moving on to actual DC Entertainment-related movies…

Green Lantern
The Martin Campbell pic has begun shooting with Ryan Reynolds as the lead. Co-stars include Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, and Tim Robbins.
The script was written by Everwood/Eli Stone’s Greg Berlanti, as well as comic-book writers Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim. Contact’s Michael Goldenberg subsequently rewrote the draft.
The film will feature Hal Jordan as the main character and Sinestro as the villain. It is expected to come out on June 17, 2011.

The Flash
Apparently, Lantern–writer Greg Berlanti is the leading contender to direct the cinematic adaptation of The Flash, based on a script by Jonny Quest’s Dan Mazeau. Nothing is really known at this point as the script was still being written back in October.

Shazam! (aka Captain Marvel)
You should Google him if you dont know who he is.
Although at one time a hot movie, it has now kind of fallen out of grace altogether.
The whole behind-the-scene fiasco was greatly detailed last year in a blog post by John August.
Bottom line is:

The project [is] dead.
By “dead,” I mean that it won’t be happening. I don’t think it’s on the studio’s radar at all. It may come back in another incarnation, with another writer, but I can say with considerable certainty that it won’t be the version I developed.

Batman 3/The Caped Crusader
Apparently, the Nolan Bros. are setting this Batman movie as the last one in their trilogy.

Without getting into specifics, the key thing that makes the third film an great possibility for us is that we want to finish our story. And in viewing it as the finishing of a story rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story … I’m very excited about the end of the film, the conclusion, and what we’ve done with the characters. My brother has come up with some pretty exciting stuff. Unlike the comics, these thing don’t go on forever in film and viewing it as a story with an end is useful. Viewing it as an ending, that sets you very much on the right track about the appropriate conclusion and the essence of what tale we’re telling. And it hearkens back to that priority of trying to find the reality in these fantastic stories. That’s what we do.

Dr. Freeze won’t be part of it, but besides that, as you can expect for a Nolan movie, nothing else is known at this point.

Superman Reboot/The Man of Steel
Again, not much (if anything) is known about what this third reboot will be about, only that David Goyer mused with a Superman idea that Nolan…

…immediately got it, loved it, and thought: That is a way of approaching the story I’ve never seen before that makes it incredibly exciting.
A lot of people have approached Superman in a lot of different ways. I only know the way that has worked for us that’s what I know how to do.

Translation: Superman will be set in a bleak environment with creepy mindfucks and an omniscient Lex Luthor.
You know what, I’m not really anticipating this one…

A studio has been keen on pursuing Marvel properties: Tom Rothman’s 20th Century Fox.

Wolverine made Fox loads of cash, so what does it mean for the rest of the franchise?

X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2
Probably one of the top priorities for Fox and its comic-related films.
The sequel will start shooting sometime next year and will focus on the Wolverine/Mariko relationship in Japan.
The fighting style will also be different.
Although they’re using the already-written arc by Chris Claremont & Frank Miller, they called in Chris McQuarrie to “tighten the story”.

X-Men Origins: Deadpool
Don’t worry about continuity, the Deadpool in this movie won’t be the same as the idiotic version you saw in Wolverine.
Says X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner:

I want to ignore the version of Deadpool that we saw in Wolverine and just start over again. Reboot it. Because this guy talks, obviously, and to muzzle him would be insane.

And for you guys doubting as to whether or not Reynolds will indeed play the lead rest assured that Ryan Reynolds has been for years the driving force behind the Deadpool stand-alone movie.
Donner herself declared:

I don’t see it as a problem that Ryan [Reynolds] is also playing Green Lantern. I mean, look at Harrison Ford — he was in Stars Wars and Indiana Jones at the same time and everyone was fine with that. Green Lantern could not be more different to Wade Wilson.

The writers behind the project are none other than Zombieland’s own Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick.
Contents of the film are still yet to be fully developed:

We’re outlining it pretty seriously right now. We’re in the early stages. We just absolutely adore the character and the comic. And tonally, it’s right up our alley. He’s the unstable, smart-ass, self deprecating guy — and they say write what you know, so [we’re perfect for it].

What is getting me excited about this is the character will definitely have its same comics attributes, including breaking the fourth wall (not something you usually see in a blockbuster-type film).

X-Men Origins: First Class
Who is writing this? Well our good friend Joss Schwartz. You can feel the “young hype vibe” already.
Okay I’m kidding, the writer has changed: it is Street Kings’ Jamie Moss.
Although at first a surething for Bryan Singer, it now looks like he won’t be directing the movie after all.
Reported HitFix:

Fox is actively searching for directors to step in and helm the film, with discussions with at least two other filmmakers as recently as last week.
The filmmakers that they’re approaching now about directing “X-Men: First Class” are good names, guys who either have real experience in the comic book movie medium or who have heavy credibility with fan audiences. Names that would make fanboys happy from the first moment they’re announced.

The studio probably doesn’t want to wait long until it gets this thing going.

X-Men Origins: Magneto
That’s one heck of a movie that’s been on the studio’s backburner for some time.
Problem is that it’s really been too long in the making.
The technology used in X-Men 3 to “de-age” Ian McKellen has a prohibitive cost that would financially block the movie. And casting a younger McKellen is proving more than difficult.
In addition, the Magneto storyline is probably the least of the studio’s concerns at the moment.

Sony is also looking at its own slate…

The Amazing Spider-Man
Well by now you’re probably aware of the whole Sam Raimi debacle.
Marc Webb is currently set to direct a James Vanderbilt-penned adaptation of Spidey.
Yes, it’s another reboot.
What’s more apalling however is that Sony already announced its intention to release the movie in 3-D (on July 3, 2012).
If you’ve been following this blog for some time now, then you know that I’m a 3-D supporter, but only when put to good use and with good reasons.
When a studio forces down your throat a technology even before a single word has been written, this is not art, it’s pure business.

No real new info at this point on this spin-off, though Topher Grace is still expected to return. The character would be changed to more of an anti-hero, with Carnage as the antagonist.
Seabiscuit’s Gary Ross has been signed to direct a script by Reese & Wernick.

Besides Iron Man 2, the Marvel Studio is behind some of the most anticipated superhero movies in history.

Okay, bad choice to start us off. It certainly is not the most anticipated movie on this list, though the cast and crew does look pretty good.
Chris Hemsworth has the lead while Tom Hiddleston plays the film’s villain, Loki. Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Jaimie Alexander and Idris Elba are also present.
The movie is currently being directed by Oscar-Nominated Kenneth Branagh (certainly not someone you’d expect for a superhero movie). The script however was made by Poseidon/I Am Legend’s Mark Protosevich.
I somehow don’t see the two of them mixing together…
Who knows how this is going to turn out.
In the meantime, here’s the official description:

The Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans as punishment. Once here, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth.

The First Avenger: Captain America
The movie will be helmed by Joe Johnston (from Jumanji and Jurassic Park 3 fame) while Chris ‘Human Torch’ Evans was just announced as the one carrying the shield.
Like Lautner in his time, Evans will surely need to bulk-up for the role, and make the sharp contrast between the 98-pound weakling that is (was?) Steve Rogers and the muscular alter ego.
I’m not entirely psyched about the casting, especially since this is a period piece (the movie starts in WW2 and should end with him being frozen in ice and discovered by S.H.I.E.L.D.).

This one is very uncertain, though Scott Pilgrim’s Edwar Wright & Joe Cornish have already penned the script.

[The movie is] about Henry Pym and Scott Lang, so you actually do a prologue where you see Pym as Ant-Man in action in the 60’s, in sort of “Tales to Astonish” mode basically, and then the contemporary, sort of flash-forward, is Scott Lang’s story, and how he comes to acquire the suit, how he crosses paths with Henry Pym, and then, in an interesting sort of Machiavellian way, teams up with him. So it’s like an interesting thing, like the “Marvel Premiere” one that I read which is Scott Lang’s origin, it’s very brief like a lot of those origin comics are, and in a way, the details that are skipped through in the panels and the kind of thing we’d spend half an hour on.
Because that character isn’t one of their biggest properties, it’s not like a tentpole deadline. It’s more like me and Kevin Feige saying, ‘Let’s make a really good script.’ We’ve always agreed on that — ‘Lets make a good script that works, that’s all about a great genre film, and that isn’t necessarily relying on anything else.

The Avengers
We finish this round-up with the superhero movie to end them all.
Will Hulk make an appearance (albeit as a baddie)?
One massive thing’s for sure though: Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes/War Machine), Scarlett Johansson (Natalia Romanova/Black Widow), Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), will all reprise their role in this über-pic.
Although there are some issues about mixing the techno-world that is Iron Man with Thor’s more supernatural outlook,
Zak Penn finished a few weeks ago a draft. Whether it is finalized is still to be decided, especially given that there is still no director on board (Favreau is only exec producing).
A few other questions have still not found any answers: Will Hawkeye, Wasp, or even Ant-Man, be part of the team? What about Ed Norton reprising his Bruce Banner role?
I’d say yes to all, if only as cameos.

The plan is for Marvel to release one of the Avengers at a time. First Iron Man 2 on May 7, 2010, then Thor on May 6, 2011 followed by Captain American in July of the same year, and then again in May 2012 with The Avengers.

Published: 5 years ago

The Hungry Hippos: New Outlets for Scripted Fare

Feeling a little down with the network TV landscape? Perhaps you are a writer with a terrific cable show written in spec, but for some reason, you feel that the cable channels can’t host such a daring vision? Well, fear not: since the TV landscape has gotten viciously competitive over the past few years, cable shows have gnawed on the ratings’ pie of the networks. It started in the summer, now it’s year-round. Sons of Anarchy besting the networks, the premiere of SyFy’s Stargate Universe crushing FOX’s Dollhouse.…really, you name your example.

Success stories have duplicated for cable networks, who have thrived thanks to critically-loved scripted programming: FX, AMC, TNT, USA… And cable execs used this excellent track record to take bigger responsibilities (I’m looking at you, Kevin Reilly, formerly at FX, then at NBC and FOX).  So, we’re now gonna take a look at four of those fierce new guys in town, who have aggressively developped their dramas and comedies in the past 2 years. They are…

Cable’s Hungry Hippos

And we’re starting with the most recent newcomer:

Now, it’s a very recent premium channe that only has carriage deals with four cable operators so far: Verizon, Cox Communications, Mediacom and Charter Communications. Moreover, the official launch was last October, the day before Halloween. That didn’t prevent Mark Greenberg, formerly at Showtime and appointed president of the new venture, that unites Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM, from scaring up the competition early (see what I did there? You’d rather have not? Oh, OK.) through a development slate that already counts three intriguing projects.

Tough Trade takes place in Nashville, Tennessee, and centers on a family…rather, a dynasty of artists that are left on the verge of bankruptcy after decades of excess. Their only saving grace is the black sheep of the family, a former country artist turned alt-rock crooner (a la Chris Cornell maybe?). Lead role goes to Sam Shepard (The Pledge, Black Hawk Down), and True Blood writer Chris Offutt penned the pilot, which will be shepherded by Jenji Kohan from Weeds fame (and probably a favorite of Greenberg, we guess).

Second project was announced this week. This time, it’s shock jock extraordinaire Larry Charles (Borat, Brüno) who will direct and exec produce a half-hour comedy pilot called iCon. It will center on a scheming Silicon Valley titan that may (or may not.…oh, who am I kidding) be loosely based on the life and career of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Here, the writer hired is unlikely, as it’s Dan Lyons, a Newsweek editor that has created a fake Steve Jobs blog and has even made a satirical book lampooning Jobs. Coincidentally, iCon is also the name of a bio book chronicling the rise of Jobs. According to Mike Fleming of Deadline, “Jobs and other titans will certainly inspire iCON at its inception, but the show will lampoon the larger hi-tech world”. iSkeptic.

The third one just was announced. It’s a miniseries based on Ayn Rand’s 1952 epic 750-page novel The Fountainhead. It is centered on the rivalry between two architects and the reporter that chronicles it in a thriving newspaper industry.

Belly prognosis: Great. The three projects developed show great originality: Tough Trade may show a behind-the-scenes look at the heart of country music, and the casting of Sam Shepard is intriguing. iCon has the potential on paper to be a meaner, nerdier The Office. Jury’s still out on The Fountainhead. But, being the direct lovechild of Hollywood studios, as opposed to its premium-cable opponents, Epix will rely on its limitless catalogue in case of failure.

Let’s switch to basic cable, and take a look at…

Owned in equal shares by Hearst and Disney, with a little NBC-Universal thrown into the mix, A&E has been developing dramas and scripted programming of its own for two years. It was, and still is, usually home to a lot of reality TV (Growing up Gotti, Intervention, Criss Angel Mindfreak, Dog the Bounty Hunter). The two first dramas on the air were The Cleaner, kind of a scripted version of Intervention, starring Benjamin Bratt and showrunned by Jonathan Prince (American Dreams). It lasted two seasons, but was cancelled at the end of its sophomore run. Ditto with The Beast, marketed as The Shield meets Wiseguy, and starring Patrick Swayze in his final performance. Due to his untimely cancer and death, the show was cancelled at the end of its first run.

But did those faux pas stop our Hungry Hippo Bob DiBitetto, president of A&E Networks? Hell no! If you took a look at the press release recapping their scripted development slate, last May, it was a catalogue of prestigious names. Kevin Costner! Jerry Bruckheimer! Anthony LaPaglia! Shawn Ryan!

10 months later, all those projects are dead and buried. It came down to two dramas: The Quickening, about, and I quote: “A bi-polar LAPD detective must wrestle with the fact that the medication she has been prescribed makes her “normal” but her disorder, with all the paranoia and risks it comes with, makes her extraordinary.” It was written by Jennifer Salt, formerly on the staff of Nip/Tuck. The other one was Sugarloaf, written by Clifton Campbell (formerly of Profiler and White Collar) and starring Matt Passmore (lead in season 2 of Australian mob drama Underbelly) and Kiele Sanchez (Nikki from Lost.…was that a mean credit reminder?). This one is about a homicide cop wrongfully accused of having an affair with his Captain’s wife…and transferred to a small town in Florida. Crime-solver reluctantly transferred to the Sunshine State.…sounds eerily similar to Burn Notice? Yep, and that’s also the one show who got picked up for 13 episodes this summer. Other than that? Nothing in sight.

Belly prognosis: Mild, or weak, depending on your optimism. The disappointing visibility in the ratings and the media of their dramas freezed the enthusiasm of our Hungry Hippo. After a flamboyant upfront in 2009, with many established names and interesting subjects, they apparently want to put a light Burn Notice–like on air and it appears they got rid of the rest of contenders. For the channel whose slogan is “Real Life. Drama.”, the speculation for the next May upfront might be a change of slogan: “Real Life. That’s enough.”

The premium pay-per-view channel has begun his development slate with a whisper. It was a series based on the Academy Award-winning drama Crash. The thing is, Dennis Hopper didn’t have enough star power, and was met with critical despise during the course of its two seasons. It changed showrunners, passing from Glen “The Shield” Mazzara to Ira Steven “The 4400″ Behr, but no dice. Cancelled without even a soul to care. It’s not alone, either: barely anyone has heard of comedy Head Case, recently cancelled after 3 seasons.

But this misstep was corrected with fresh comedy series Party Down. Carried by a head writer coming off the heels of critical darling Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas, and a talented cast of comedians (Lizzy Caplan, Jane Lynch, Ken Marino, Adam Scott), it posted good reviews (66 score on Metacritic, among other things), and the network liked it well enough to give another 10-episode season — I couldn’t find any info about the ratings, FYI. And it seems that Starz has found its first hit with Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the period drama starring Lucy Lawless, who averages between 850,000 and 1 million viewers every Friday. Plus, the full-frontal nudity and geysers of blood 300–style made it controversial, if not in the USA, at least in the UK, where a lobby of puritan media watchers, Media Watch UK, was trying to block it from airing. (It failed: British Bravo bought it, and has all the intentions of airing it.)

But it needed a seasoned exec, just like Epix, to take it to the next level. Enter Chris Albrecht, the fiery former HBO executive unceremoniously dumped from the pay-per-view giant after a dark story involving booze and affairs. From its first public appearence after his nomination late last year, at TCA, he understands that Starz needs to stand out from the crowd: “This is alchemy and we’re putting together our chemical formula so I’m a fan of all [Starz original] shows and they are distinct from other shows that are on other networks and they’re distinct from each other as well,” he said in this article. The development slate looks hectic, with another historical drama based on the legend of King Arthur, Camelot, slated to premiere mid-2011. Not to mention the Ridley Scott-produced Pillars of The Earth, a miniseries bought by Starz but independently financed and shot, and slated to premiere in July. It stars Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell and Allison Pill, all of whom had recent significant roles in past American TV shows: Kings, Eleventh Hour and In Treatment, respectively.

Belly prognosis: Great. Albrecht’s track record on HBO is unparallelled, and so far they have a strong interest in historical dramas based on key hero figures, but with a more violent and provocative twist. (Camelot is produced by the guys behind The Tudors, light on historical accuracy, but heavy on murders and humping.) On the comedy side, they can go with dark/existential comedy fairly well, since Gravity features characters that made suicide attempts, and still live to talk about it. But while pitching your show, don’t expect HBO-slick production values. For instance, Spartacus was critically mocked for his visual blood geysers, aping 300.

Part of the basic cable channels owned by Turner Entertainment, TBS has focused on off-network  comedy reruns and reality TV shows. But it has recently ramped up its original scripted development, and has a bonafide hit with Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne, and Meet The Browns, with more than 3 million viewers each week. It also broadcast 10 Items Or Less, now cancelled, and Friends–like comedy My Boys, that will be back for a fourth season this summer.

But it is featured there for its hourlong drama development, a novelty since its sister channel TNT has only hourlong dramas, and that was one of the ways you could differentiate their programming. (It also had Men Of A Certain Age, which you could classify as dramedy.) So far, four projects are in development.

Franklin and Bash stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar (fresh off the cancellation of Raising the Bar for TNT) and Breckin Meyer as lawyers who win a case against an established law firm, and effectively take them down. They are then hired by the firm’s patriarch, played by Malcolm McDowell. Glory Daze can be described as Greek set in the 1980s, where a socially inept campus freshman (Kelly Blatz, coming from the Disney series Aaron Stone, where he played the lead character) joins the wildest fraternity on the campus. SNL alum Tim Meadows has been cast, along with Julianna Guill, who made an…um…appeareance in the latest Friday the 13th remake.

In Security centers on two sisters who manage a private security company previously run by their father, while, of course, balancing their problems in their family and personal life. Journeywoman of comedy Constance Zimmer has been cast in the project, who comes from Ric Swartzlander, writer on Gary Unmarried and previously on ABC comedy Rodney, and Peter Segal, director of the third Naked Gun movie and Get Smart. It’s also counting Chris Albrecht among its producers.

Finally, from the creator of Monk, Andy Brockman, comes Uncle Nigel, about a Philadelphia cop (Gary Cole) who constantly clashes with his nephew, a rookie in the same police department who never misses an occasion to screw up (role not-yet-cast).

Belly prognosis: Kind of bright, actually. TNT has an excellent track record of developing hit dramas, and the lack of significant original hits make this Hippo hungry. And also likely to give a lot of marketing push to its new dramas, who will be lighter than what you can find on TNT. The development slate looks diverse, with just about something for everybody, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve Koonin, head of Turner channels, announces a new “drama” block on TBS for the fall.

Digestive thoughts: We’re looking at cable channels with very different backgrounds, so the chances of them succeeding in launching hit shows are very different. Epix looks the hungriest of them all, having everything to prove, but they also can raise awareness of their brand with their first projects. A&E apparently bit more than he could chew with its stillborn scripted development, and cancellations of its two dramas on-air. Unless next upfront looks as busy as last year drama-wise, I wouldn’t see a lot of future in bringing shows over to them, since they seem to do fine with reality/alternative programming anyway. Starz already has a controversial hit on their hands with Spartacus, but seems to struggle with bringing viewers to its comedies. The arrival of Chris Albrecht can bring the pay-per-view channel the prestige it needs, with many historical dramas to start. Oh, and it will please stockholders too. TBS has a very diverse development slate, but one that counts proven talent (Tim Meadows, Constance Zimmer, Gary Cole, and Andy Brockman on the producing side). A channel to be counted with if you have light, “escapist” entertainment in mind, in the everlasting words of Ben Silverman.

Do you think: why would he finish an epic story with a Ben Silverman quote? I answer: why not?

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Published: 5 years ago

Drama Spec Script 2010 — What is hot and what is not

A brand new 2014 list has been posted.
Click here to access it.

After criss-crossing several sources, it is now time to review what dramas are good to spec, and which are not.
As usual, when available, a sample script is offered for each show listed — usually the pilot episode.

Let’s do again a quick recap of how this works.

The shows are divided into five categories regarding their appeal to readers and how well they are known/read:
Over-specced (shows that have passed their prime, try to avoid doing them)
Mainstream (shows that have matured enough that they have become on-the-nose speccers — and a lot of people are speccing them)
Wild Cards (soon, everyone will spec those, maybe you can get a head start)
Outsiders (specs that will get you out from the pack)
Gamblers (newcomers that could potentially become popular down the line — if they’re not canned first)

There is also a grade regarding the show’s longevity in relation to specs of said show.
Meaning, how long can you keep your spec script without having to throw it in the trash?
To do this, we use what I think is the greatest grading system on Earth; stars:
★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★ — Very Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Fair
★★★★ — Poor

And here we go.

Re-tool your spec if you have one, but you probably shouldn’t bother beginning a new one for those shows.

CSI/Law & Order (CBS/NBC)
Type: Police procedurals
Past their expiration date.
Longevity: ★★★★ — Nothing’s A-Changin’ for this one. It still will get “real old, real fast.”

Dexter (Sho)
Type: Serialized crime drama
As predicted last year, the Dexter time has passed, killed by its own popularity (commonly known as the hotness monster).
Longevity: ★★★★★ — If you’ve seen the end of season four, you know what I mean when I say your spec won’t survive the fifth season premiere.

Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice/House (ABC/FOX)
Type: Medical procedurals
It is harsh putting these three shows at the same level, but the truth of the matter is that they’ve all already been done to death(s), literally.
Longevity: ★★★★★ — Renewed, and renewed, and renewed.

Mad Men (AMC)
Type: Serialized historical drama
This might be a surprise for some, but it’s the same reasoning as 30 Rock: everyone is doing it. Sure, you won’t go wrong with a Mad Men spec, but it certainly won’t be an original choice.
Longevity: ★★★★★ — And not only that, but who knows what’s going to happen with all the massive changes at the end of last season? You would need to stumble on major plotlines to get this spec going, which is never good.

The current and new widespread shows in town that are getting read.

Bones (FOX)
Type: Police procedural
Still a mainstream procedural that’s probably living its last year(s) as a tangible spec.
Longevity: ★★★★★ — Doesn’t mean the show is going to die soon though (you know, strong ratings and all that).

Breaking Bad (AMC)
Type: Serialized character/family drama
Although it was last year a “Wild Card”, the series has now become pretty much mainstream, replacing Mad Men as one of the most sought-out speccable shows. As much as this is true, I would still not recommend beginning a new spec for three reasons: first, the show is way more popular than you’d think (meaning more competition), second it’s heavily serialized, and third…
Longevity: ★★★★★ — …the end of season two hinted at a different character dynamic altogether for season three. See Mad Men on why that could be problematic.

Chuck (NBC)
Type: Light spy/action procedural
On the one hand, Chuck is still an offbeat drama that has a lot of potential, so you shouldn’t throw your current spec out the window.
Longevity: ★★★★★ — On the other hand, the series recently scored its lowest rated episode ever. Beyond that however, the status quo is simply not quo anymore, so it’s hard to find the correct balance between serialized stories and “mission of the week.”

Fringe (FOX)
Type: Police/Science-fiction procedural
At this point, the show is more fantasy-fiction than science-fiction. With that said, its procedural side is undoubtedly attractive to many.
Longevity: ★★★★ — It got beaten hard in its new Thursday timeslot, and despite this, the notoriously-fickle FOX network renewed it. Yeah, it’s safe. Plus, the core dynamics of the show will probably not change much in these next episodes.

Gossip Girl/90210 (The CW)
Type: Teen dramas
When it comes to this subgenre, there’s no debate that, yet again, these are the shows to spec.
Longevity: ★★★★ — The CW is hanging tight on those two.

The Mentalist (CBS)
Type: Police procedural
Surely the hottest specced procedural right now. Maybe you can play with the Red John storyline.
Longevity: ★★★★★ — This one is pretty much safe.

True Blood (HBO)
Type: Serialized fantasy drama
At one point an “Outsider”, it has now become surprisingly common. I say surprisingly because it is a hard speccer, given both its dense mythology and the fact that it is based on a series of books.
Longevity: ★★★★★ — HBO is certainly not going to can it. Maybe you can predict the future of the show via said novels, but Alan Ball has already changed major stuff. Would your season one spec really fit into a season three narrative?

Wild Cards
Not quite fully widespread but will get there given the chance.

Burn Notice/Psych (USA)
Type: Light action and crime procedurals
Although less popular than a few months back, story ideas have not been exhausted yet…
Longevity: ★★★★ — …and USA isn’t letting them go anytime soon.

Caprica (Syfy)
Type: Serialized science-fiction drama
This category choice might also surprise some people. If you look at Caprica, unlike the early days of Battlestar Galactica (or SGU), you don’t have a standard formula, at least regarding a potential ‘procedural’ aspect. There are overarching stories that more or less get expanded throughout the various episodes, but you don’t have a stand-alone crisis each episode. If you do decide to spec this, tread lightly…
Longevity: ★★★★★ — …especially considering the regular character and mythological developments, as well as its lukewarm ratings.

Castle (ABC)
Type: Police procedural
Will most likely take over Bones’ place in the spec world.
Longevity: ★★★★ — Strong 10PM ratings means its nearly-assured renewal. Its classic ‘case of the week’ format is also a crowd-pleaser.

Glee (FOX)
Type: Light serialized high-school drama
Probably one of the most difficult specs out there, despite its overwhelming popularity. It is indeed hard to get past the serialized aspect of the series, as well as its primary use of popular songs which contradicts with the need for a spec script to be realistically producible.
Longevity: ★★★★Glee is definitely in for the long run. Try to be careful with the arrival of new cast-members and soapy twists.

Leverage (TNT)
Type: Light heist/con/action procedural
Most likely will become one of the hottest spec, the series proved this season it could go beyond the basic “con of the week” and offer actual season-long arcs (and big pay-offs). Regardless, the show’s procedural formula can still be applied to your spec. John Rogers’ blog has tons of other behind-the-scenes info about the writing.
Longevity: ★★★★ — A major drama for TNT getting renewed early. I would say wait until the season three premiere (and Gina/Sophie’s comeback) before going the hands-on approach.

Type: Police procedural
A spec as worthy now as its older brother was in its heydays…
Longevity: ★★★★★ — …thanks in part to phenomenal ratings.

Southland (TNT)
Type: Police procedural
The little cop show that could. Saved by the bell, it is still the underdog police drama on TV and a speccer with great potential.
Longevity: ★★★★ — Don’t take it as granted though: the ratings are going down fast. You should wait for a definite yes from TNT before beginning a breakdown.

The shows (mostly cable) you may be tempted to take a risk on, getting you on top of the reading pile. Beyond that, it depends on the willingness of the reader and his/her knowledge of the show. Who knows, maybe the showrunner is into less popular shows and will value your risk-taking.

Eureka/Warehouse 13 (Syfy)
Type: Science-fiction procedurals
Yes, believe it or not they are getting specced; and for good reasons. Stand-alones are easy to place inside any of their seasons. Even Eureka, soon in its fourth season, still has some spec potential as a procedural. Not to mention the fact that there are not many other science-fiction shows out there.
Longevity: ★★★★ — You can count on them being on TV for some time, and major mysteries/arcs can be easily avoided in a potential story.

The Good Wife (CBS)
Type: Legal procedural
IT is hard to define this show, but one thing’s for sure: it will become a hot speccer very soon.
Longevity: ★★★★ — You shouldn’t be worried for Julianna Margulies anymore, she has found her goldmine.

Stargate: Universe (Syfy)
Type: Serialized science-fiction procedural
This might seem antinomic, but the truth is, SGU is way more serialized than its two predecessors. Still, some episodes can center around the usual “problem of the week,” and therefore give a more procedural aspect to the show, which makes it much more speccable than you’d think.
Longevity: ★★★★ — Long live the Stargate franchise. Be careful that future episodes don’t change major events in your spec.

White Collar (USA)
Type: Light crime procedural
This year’s dark horse, it could down the line become a major speccer for light procedurals.
Longevity: ★★★★ — It definitely seems it’s going to be here for a few seasons.

For one reason or another, these are much riskier specs to do right now. You have been warned.

Dark Blue (TNT)
Type: Police procedural
This is a gambler simply because it is virtually unknown compared to the other police procedurals. This might be a good thing usually, but I’d hold off speccing this…
Longevity: ★★★★ — …until it’s deep into its second season and more acknowledged.

Human Target (FOX)
Type: Action procedural
As virtually the only reliable (formula-wise) action-drama on television, you’d think it would be the go-to show to spec. But if you look at it more carefully, there are just too many unknown variables for now.
Longevity: ★★★★★ — If anything, the series is in strong danger of getting canceled. Try to wait for a renewal before starting on your script.

Parenthood (NBC)
Type: Serialized family drama
Are you seriously considering speccing this one? Let’s get real.
Longevity: ★★★★★ — Despite a possible second season, already finding a formula you can lean on for your spec is near-impossible this early.

With over thirty shows reviewed, we can spot of few trends.

Showtime is almost totally absent from this list mainly because of their lack of dramas (they’re more into half-hours it seems). FX is also not listed thanks to their current programming renewal. The basic-cable shows from AMC, TNT, and even Syfy and USA, continue to rise on the spec market.

A lot of new shows are already getting specced right off the bat, primarily due to some early pick-ups, shorter seasons, and dying classics.
I would advise against getting too invested into a spec unless you know for sure the show has been renewed.
Besides the cancelation factor, you also have to consider if the show is heavily serialized or not.
I didn’t include series like FlashForward, V, or even Sons of Anarchy, as they are all nearly impossible to spec at this time. Your spec would be hard to put into “stasis mode” due to the ever-changing storylines.
(Semi-)Procedurals are still the norm, though a lot more serialized shows are getting some sense of success. Even what appear to be classic procedurals such as The Mentalist still have a few arcs you can play with.
The bottom line is the same as usual: chose a show that reflects your voice, your aspirations, and what you like. You really do have a wide array to choose from.

So now, let me ask you this: What are you speccing?