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Published: 3 years ago

TV Writing Fellowships: The Big Six

We all know that staffing season is right around the corner, but a great way to learn more about the TV writing industry while simultaneously get a major push in “breaking into it” is by getting selected into one of the main TV writing fellowships out there.

Although several lists of them have been posted here and there, I didn’t find an exhaustive one listing both the current application requirements for 2011, as well as the correct submission period (plus other info like eligibility, number of fellows selected, etc.).
So here is one.

For future reference, I have also included the two fellowships whose deadlines have already past.
Note that the listed application requirements exclude the obvious signed agreements/application forms that must always be completed. In addition, I did not include the physical details of the submission process such as number of copies of scripts required, notarization of application, shipping address, etc. (all of it can be found on the official page of the programs).

CBS Writers Mentoring ProgramCBS Mentoring Program
Application Webpage
The focus of this six month program is on opening doors: providing opportunities to build relationships with network executives and show runners; to support new and emerging writers in their efforts to improve their craft; and to develop the interpersonal skills necessary to break in and succeed.
The Writers Mentoring Program is not employment and there is no monetary compensation. It is, instead, a structured program of career development, support, and personal access to executives and decision-making processes, with the goal of preparing aspiring writers for later employment opportunities in television.
Each participant will be teamed with two different mentors.
One is a show mentor who is a senior-level writer on a current CBS drama or comedy series. This relationship builds over the course of the Program and is focused on helping the participant with creative feedback on their writing as well as help and advice on career goals.
The other is a CBS network or studio executive with whom they will meet on a regular basis, to discuss their work, get creative feedback on their material and get advice and support in furthering their career.
Once a week, participants will be invited to attend a small workshop-style meeting with various CBS show runners and other industry professionals. Speakers include executive producers, agents, managers, development and current executives and others. The purpose of these gatherings is for participants to gain a better understanding of how the business works from many different perspectives as well as creating the opportunity to make critical networking connections.
It’s been found that in order to derive the greatest benefit from the Program, participants should be available to 1) attend a once a week (evening) workshop and 2) attend meetings or observe in various situations for a minimum of five full days (not necessarily in sequence) over the course of the six-month Program.
Number of applicants selected: Up to 10
Submission period: February 1, 2011 — April 1, 2011
Dates of program: Late September 2011 — April, 2 2012
Eligibility: The primary focus of The CBS Diversity Institute’s Writers Mentoring Program is to provide access and opportunities for talented and motivated diverse writers with a focus on writers of color. Aspiring diverse writers with a strong desire to write for CBS television series are encouraged to apply. You must be 21 or older to be eligible.
Application requirements:
– One half-hour or hour spec script based on a primetime network or cable series that aired new episodes during the 2010–2011 season
– One original work of writing (screenplay, stage play, short fiction story) except original pilots. The original sample should be similar in tone to the spec sample.
– Current resume or short biographical summary
– Letter of interest
Cost: Free

Disney/ABC TV Writing ProgramABC Writing Program
Application Webpage
The program is designed to expose aspiring writers to key executives, producers and literary representatives – all essential in the pursuit of a writing career. Additionally, while in the program, writers have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a current programming or development executive to create spec scripts of series from the current broadcast season. The ultimate goal is to prepare and nurture the writers for a professional writing career.
Number of applicants selected: Up to 8
Submission period: May 1, 2011 — June 1, 2011
Dates of program: January 2012 — January 2013
Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have US employment eligibility. Prior professional work experience in the entertainment industry is recommended. Post college experience preferred. Although one completed script is required for consideration, the ideal candidates should have a body of work consisting of no less than two spec scripts and at least one original sample. If candidate advances to final stages of interview process, the review of additional scripts and referrals from working entertainment industry professionals will be required.
Application requirements:
– One half-hour or hour spec script based on a primetime network or cable series that aired new episodes during the 2010–2011 season
– Current resume
– An autobiographical summary
– A statement of interest capturing the applicant’s journey thus far in pursuing a career as a TV writer (500 words or less)
– Two letters of recommendation from entertainment industry professionals. The letters must be written on your behalf by working entertainment industry professionals who can discuss your potential as a professional television staff writer.
Cost: Free

FOX Diversity Writer’s InitiativeFOX Diversity
Application Webpage
Writers selected will be invited to attend a six-week session at Writers Boot Camp and subsequent consultation with WBC mentors during which their scripts will be rewritten and improved. The goal is to execute scripts at a level of professional quality equal to those purchased by Fox in the course of its normal television development.
Submission period: TBD (Deadline is usually end of June)
Eligibility: The emphasis in the FOX Writer’s Initiative is to support the development of original television series ideas by diverse writers, or by non-diverse writers who are writing about inherently diverse themes and/or diverse lead characters. African-American, Latino, Native American, Middle Eastern, East and South Asian writers are particularly encouraged to apply. Candidates should also be recommended by either agency representation or an individual with considerable industry experience. Applicants must be at least 18 years old to submit.
Application requirements:
Writer without representation:
– One half-hour or hour original spec script pilot.
– The script must be read and evaluated by an individual with considerable industry experience (e.g. a writer that is currently working on a TV show [producer or above], a television or film creative executive, writing professor, a community entertainment group, a national media coalition group). The evaluator is to write a letter of recommendation on the letterhead of the company or school with which (s)/he is affiliated.
– A cover letter indicating writer’s desire to participate in the FOX Writer’s Initiative
– Current resume
Writer with representation, talent agent must submit:
– One half-hour or hour original spec script pilot.
– A cover letter indicating writer’s desire to participate in the FOX Writer’s Initiative
– Current resume of applicant writer
Cost: Free

NBC/Universal Writers on the VergeWriters on the Verge
Application Webpage
Writers on the Verge is a 12-week program focused on polishing writers and readying them for a staff writer position on a television series. The program will consist of two night classes, which will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays (7-10pm), weekly at NBC in Universal City, CA. Once accepted, students must attend all classes and turn in all written assignments.
Classes concentrate on creating an exceptional spec script and understanding the dynamics of pitching oneself in the television industry. Writers are given the chance to interact with industry players ranging from network executives to showrunners to agents and receive valuable feedback on their work and pitch style.
Number of applicants selected: Up to 8
Submission period: May 30, 2011 — June 30, 2011 (3:00 PM PST deadline)
Dates of program: October 4th, 2011 — January 12th, 2012
Eligibility: Anybody can apply. The program is especially looking for writers who are “almost there” but need that final bit of preparation with their writing and personal presentation skills. They particularly encourage writers of diverse backgrounds to apply.
Application requirements:
– One half-hour or hour spec script based on a primetime network or cable series that aired new episodes during the 2010–2011 season
– Current resume
Cost: Free

Nickelodeon Writing FellowshipNick Fellowship
Application Webpage
Operating in a three-phased structure, the Fellowship provides a salaried position for up to one year and offers hands-on experience writing spec scripts and pitching story ideas in both live action and animation television.
This three-phased structure allows fellows an opportunity to nurture relationships with creators, network executives, line producers, head writers, showrunners and story editors.
As part of their script writing, each fellow will be assigned to an Executive in Charge of Production and have an opportunity to write a spec script for an on-air Nickelodeon show.
In addition, all fellows are integrated into the activities of both the development and production departments. This allows the fellows an opportunity to attend storyboard pitches, notes meetings, records, table reads, show pitches and show tapings, all while being exposed to top creators and key production crews.
Number of applicants selected: Up to 4
Submission period: January 2, 2011 — February 28, 2011
Dates of program: October 2011 — October 2012
Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have US employment eligibility.
Application requirements:
– One half-hour comedic spec script based on a primetime network or cable live-action or animation series that aired new episodes during the 2010–2011 season
– Current resume
– Half-page biography
Cost: Free

WB Writers’ WorkshopWB Writers Workshop
Application Webpage
The Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop consists of three components, all geared towards preparing the writer for a successful career in television writing.
Lectures: Weekly lectures feature guest speakers currently working in television and include a mix of showrunners, directors, actors and agents. Each seminar will teach a new skill essential for surviving and excelling in a writers’ room as a staff writer and beyond.
Simulated Writers’ Room: After the lectures, the Workshop participants are divided into smaller groups for an intensive writing experience. Each participant will be required to complete a new spec script under the same deadlines found on a show currently in production. How participants perform during this exercise will determine whether they will be chosen for a possible staffing position on a Warner Bros. show.
Staffing: Upon completion of the program, Studio executives will help participants, who pass the Writers’ Room, obtain a staff position on a Warner Bros. television show currently in production. We can’t guarantee you will get staffed, but we will get your material in front of the people who make the ultimate decisions – the showrunners.
Number of applicants selected: Up to 10
Submission period: May 2, 2011 — June 1, 2011
Dates of program: October 2011 — March 2012
Eligibility: Applicants must have US employment eligibility.
Application requirements:
– One half-hour or hour spec script based on a primetime network or cable series that aired new episodes during the 2010–2011 season
– Current resume
– A one-page composition telling “why you want to be a television writer and how your background will add a unique perspective to television.“
Cost: $30 application fee per script (multiple scripts can be entered through separate applications)

  • http://freshfromthe.com Jen

    Are the letters of recommendation a new thing for the ABC/Disney one? That’s never been a requirement in the past.

  • Alex

    Yes, it is the main addition to this year’s application process. The letters must be included in the application materials but not sent or emailed directly to the program from the people recommending you.
    They have also pushed forward the submission period by a full month (i.e. it will start on May 1st).

  • http://freshfromthe.com Jen

    Oh wow. Man, I’m glad you posted this! Thanks for the heads up!

  • Oz P

    Thanks for gathering all this info together! One detail that you may want to explicitly add to the WB description is that applicants are allowed to apply twice and submit two scripts– though I think the entries are assessed separately (at least “officially”).

  • Zach

    I agree, a huge thanks for posting this!

    I’m curious, regarding the WB Writers’ Workshop, what falls under the heading of a “primetime network or cable series?” Does that only cover shows that air from 8-10pm? Is an HBO show acceptable, as premium cable?

  • Alex

    @Oz P: Good catch. I’ll add it to the list.

    @Zach: The distinction between premium and basic cable pretty much doesn’t exist in regards to fellowships. By that I mean Dexter or Treme will be as wildly (un)known as Breaking Bad or White Collar. The bottom line is that premium series are as much accepted as any series.

  • Zach

    Thanks again, Alex!

  • Juan

    Do you guys know if a spec can have another writer? I have several specs but with a wirting partner. is that acceptable?

  • Nai’lah Carter

    Thanks for this post. Preparing for the season–Staffing season that is! Wish you all the best of luck.

    Nai’lah

  • April

    @ Juan, at least for the WB Writers’ Workshop writing partners are accepted. Check out the website.

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