Television

TV

O ur Television section ‘Channels’ the Wild, Wild, West of TV’s Second Golden Age, and takes you on a dazzling journey through the Art, Craft and History of Televisionary Magic.

From Dramatic Series to Comedy, Talking Heads to Sports, we’ll explore it all, guided by experienced practitioners who’ll give you an insider’s look behind the Small Screen.

On a more personal note:  As a fresh faced kid, I was lucky enough to work in Television for Norman Lear and Carroll O’Connor on “Archie Bunker’s Place.” And though I’ve done my fair share of TV work since, this was a seminal moment in my career, and it was a pure hoot! “Archie’s” was just the kind of Primetime boot camp an aspiring filmmaker needed: a Sponge-o-Rama in soaking up the Creative & Business alchemy of creating a top TV Series.

I had access to everything & everyone; delivering scripts to guest stars like the late, great Don Rickles – I still treasure the pithy insult he awarded me, along with the nickname: Pimple Faced Hockey Puck – and running around for the Writers, Directors and Producers, who generously rewarded my efforts by sharing their knowledge and wisdom. But the best part of my job was working with Carroll O’Connor. He showed me that the free flow of ‘Creative Genius’ is what breathes life into every Story and Character; and taught me the joys of connecting to an audience of millions.

I loved all the trades, but Acting, Writing, Directing and Producing were my favorites, so the readings & tapings were heaven; the Writer’s room was a study in focused hilarity; and the run-throughs were a PhD in how to successfully translate story into action & performance. After the run-through I’d get dinner for everybody, and sit in on the final re-write; marveling at the genius of Carroll and the Creative team, as they worked their hot magic to winnow every scene down to it’s funniest, and most poignant essence. You just can’t teach this stuff at Film School; unless it’s Hogwarts.

Their extraordinary work reminds us that shaping reality is a collective effort; a meeting of hearts & minds tuned to a common purpose: To reveal Story through Character and Action, and create a sympathetic link to the audience, that will help them see themselves clearer, and find the places within that need Attention.

So as an introductory ‘teaser’ to upcoming Posts, let me outline my: Four Pillars of Television – and please read the post links below – they’ll provide a deeper understanding of the context:

Pillar no. 1. • The Character of Intimacy:  Television, which includes Streaming and watching on our devices, is an Intimate medium, a member of the family: This is it’s Central Power. We willingly invite Television into the house; like Uncle Ray, who just loves entertain you; and while we relax, it tells us a Story – Our Story. Why is it Our Story? Because we control the remote, and pick the Characters and Programs that speak directly to us. TV’s sympathetic link allows us to see hidden possibilities, and wake slumbering potentialities in our lives, because it’s our friendly, photonic, ‘Life Coach.’
Pillar no. 2. • The Genius Circle:  Any of you who have sat in, or watched a ‘Drum Circle’ have experienced the power of a ‘Genius Circle,’ and by ‘Genius’ I mean “The expression of a distinctive character, or spirit of a people.” In a ‘Genius Circle,’ you sync up with the collective and let it’s ‘Creative Spirit’ work it’s electrifying magic through you – and TV is our giant, digital ‘Genius Circle.’ We can watch it, or join it, but it’s emotional and intellectual rhythms beat through us either way, connecting us to the human tribe and our shared experience on Earth. When we turn it on = it turns us on! 
Pillar no. 3. • The Fifth Wall:  In Theatre, Film & TV, we say a Character ‘breaks’ the ‘Fourth Wall’ when they step out of the Story to speak directly to the audience. It’s also a tacit acknowledgement that the audience is integral to the story. But there is a Fifth Wall: The boundary that prevents the Audience from joining in. When you break the Fifth Wall, you carry the Story into the ‘real’ world; and TV is a master of ‘breaking’ W5! Not through the machinations of ‘Reality TV,’ but whenever you act on information; buy products; or engage in coffee klatches about your favorite show. TV’s sponsorship model is designed to ‘teach’ you how to be a good consumer. The famous TV Pioneer Fred W. Friendly expressed it perfectly, “TV is bigger than any story it reports. It’s the greatest teaching tool since the printing press.” 
Pillar no. 4. • And Now, a Word from our Sponsor:  There wouldn’t be a “Second Golden Age of Television” if it weren’t for the Internet… TV has always been the ‘Gold Standard’ for Sponsored Content, because of the huge audiences it delivers, but the seismic shift of Attention to the Web has Networks’s scrambling to tap the Extreme Creativity they need to keep and attract viewers; and I love it! I watch more TV now than ever, and it’s inspired me to follow my new Televisionary heroes and join in. Carroll would have loved this volatile era, because ‘Archie’ was an Archetype of Change: A Character who’s consciousness was altered through the love of his family, and expanded by the awareness and acceptance of our ‘Brave New World‘ 

Movies went through a similar ‘Pillar 4’ shift in the 1980’s & 90’s with the VHS revolution, but have unfortunately devolved to their old pattern of filling screens with high priced Superhero and Action Movies . Oh well, maybe Netflix, Amazon and their online competitors will help Studios & Distributors to re-boot their approach to the craft; because Creativity, like nature, hates a vacuum…

Epilogue: “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” in TV now; it has ‘disrupted’ the old order, and invited the Creative Muses in to pitch. And you, my wonderful friends, made it happen by ‘calling’ it into being, because you weren’t seeing yourself reflected in the line-ups and sought out other forms of expression. This courageous form of ‘Showing Up’ brings us full circle: We are the Stories we want to see, and our Attention is incredibly precious, so keep up the great work!

Dang, writing that was fun! Hope you enjoyed reading it, as much as I did scribbling it. More Television Posts are on the way, but while we’re waiting for Airtime, check out these two Posts, since Writing and the Art of Television & Movies, Mirror one other:

Writer's toolkit

The Ultimate Writer’s* Toolkit – Chapter One  is the second post in our Creativity Series; it focuses on Writing (Scribbling), and gives you Seven Essential Tools designed to help Scribblers, Artists, and Creators of every stripe to refine their ‘Voices,’ and discover Story Nirvana .

Anatomy of a 'Creative' - Chapter One

Anatomy of a ‘Creative’ – Chapter One is the Third Post in our Creativity Series; it follows the opening chapter of my origin story as a Film & Television maker, and outlines Imaginative ‘Anatomical’ tools to increase your connection to the World of ‘Resonant Bliss.’ It also includes a mind-bending compass to help you establish solid bearings on your unique Creative Journey.

The Ultimate Writer’s* Toolkit – Chapter Two  Expands your Scribbler’s Toolkit by exploring how Ego and Presence impact Creativity, Character and Story Development; and lays out a set of Dynamic Tools that use ‘Presence and Awareness’ to Transform the Volatile Power of Ego into ‘Deep Storytelling.’ Like Chapter One, this Post is designed to help Scribblers, Artists, and Creators sharpen their Imagineering Skills to create Amazing Work, and find more Joy in their lives.

Anatomy of a ‘Creative’ – Chapter Two – In Chapter One we established that Everybody is a ‘Creative,’ and that Creativity works through us to Power Everything we Are and Do. In Chapter Two: Your ‘Creative’ Legs: What you ‘Stand on’; ‘Stand for,’ we explore the strength of your ‘Standing’ and show you how ‘Choosing to Stand,’ sets the wheels of Creativity in motion to make Everyday Magic happen.

 

Here are a few recommendations to expand your Televisionary horizon:

 

Photo Credits: Jens Kreuter Tina Rataj-Berard Nasa, Scott Mulvaney

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