First, deadline reminders:
June 1 - Austin Film Festival Teleplay Competition. Make sure you read the fine print about the separate title page and cardstock.
June 1 - CBS Writing Mentoring Program. A friend's boss is one of the mentors, so I have it on good authority that it's a very worthwhile program, and that they definitely consider women as a minority (woo!). I don't know if I'll be applying, though, because in addition to a spec, the program requires you submit either a play, short story or screenplay. Another CBS assistant who's applying theorized that they'll read whatever is shortest, so you're safe entering a crappy screenplay, but not a crappy short story. Hmm. I do have a crappy screenplay. But I don't really want to be sending out anything crappy, you know? I guess there's always next year.
A lot of you have been asking about what shows to spec, so I got some more advice, this time from one of the agency's tv lit assistants who also happens to be an agent trainee. First, though, please heed my advice that you should ALWAYS write something that you're passionate about, and not just try to follow industry trends. Also remember that every opinion will differ a bit. If you're on page 32 of a spec that's not on this list, it doesn't mean you should throw it out.
She says that current half-hour specs she sees are 30 ROCK, MY NAME IS EARL, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, some TWO AND A HALF MEN still, and occasionally CURB and ENTOURAGE. For one-hour, it's DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, GREY'S ANATOMY, UGLY BETTY and HOUSE, and she has also seen DEXTER a lot recently.
As for cable shows: It depends on the popularity and general social familiarity with the show. A couple years ago you saw a lot of WEEDS, but as that show is winding down, it's not much in vogue anymore. DEXTER is popular right now, as was THE SHIELD two seasons ago. As a rule she would stay away from big costume pieces like THE TUDORS - besides, the story is so lock step anyway. Although, she's starting to see MAD MEN pop up. That actually would be a good up-and-coming spec to work on.
And yes, it's too late for THE OFFICE. Some execs refuse to read them, even.