Auriette's Reviews > Hello, Lied the Agent: And Other Bullshit You Hear as a Hollywood TV Writer

Hello, Lied the Agent by Ian Gurvitz
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's review
Jun 26, 10

really liked it
Read in June, 2010

I thought I had an idea of why most television is crap, and I was pretty much right. In "'Hello,' Lied the Agent" Ian Gurvitz takes the reader through the trying process to get a half-hour comedy show picked up by a network. Even before his steady gig on staff for "Becker" wraps up, Gurvitz is pitching ideas to studios and networks. On those occasions when he gets a nibble and is asked to produce the script for a pilot, nothing ever seems to be good enough. Rather, I should say that nothing is ever simple-minded enough for the execs. We see them pass on good ideas, see them really exited about projects they later reject, and see them proceed with surprisingly similar ideas a year later. Through it all, Gurvitz maintains a mostly positive and very appreciative attitude towards his work.

In addition to Gurvitz's notes (this is a journal of his experiences over about 18 months), he includes clippings from trade publications and entertainment websites. They range from articles about the shows that get a greenlight for production to calendars of the then-current television season.

I found it odd that, in the beginning, Gurvitz used a lot of footnotes to define industry terminology, but later in the book, he worked the definitions into the text (a much preferred method). I knew what 99% of the terms meant, but because Gurvitz would sometimes embellish on the actual definition with a comic jab or personal insight, I still felt I had to stop and read them all.

My only criticisms are first, the rampant use of profanity. I use it myself, but I'm more uncomfortable reading and writing curse words than I am saying them, and I don't feel their use added any insight into his feelings most of the time. Secondly, I think the publisher could have made the trade articles a little larger on the page, so they'd be easier to read. Better yet, they could have re-typed some of the articles (or gotten the files from the editors). Then again, perhaps those editors told them what they could use and how large they were allowed to make them.

All in all, this is a book that any aspiring TV writer should read, if for no other reason than to be prepared for the uphill battle both to sell the idea, then to complete a script that's acceptable to the many personalities that will have a yay-or-nay in the process.

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