This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with writer, producer, former studio executive and diversity thought leader Kelly Edwards. Many of us want to be able to pitch our shows to a network or studio but just don’t know how the game is played. Kelly not only knows how the game is played she wrote a book on how to do it.
Her new book is The Executive Chair: A Writer’s Guide to TV Series Development.
To make compelling television, our industry depends on enthusiastic new voices with fresh ideas. While there are plenty of books about the mechanics of writing, this is the first time an insider has detailed the invaluable TV executive perspective. As key pieces of the entertainment puzzle, executives hold institutional wisdom that seldom gets disseminated outside network walls.
The Executive Chair breaks down the business from the gatekeeper’s point of view, illuminating the creative process used by those who ultimately make the decisions. Whether developing a project for the entertainment marketplace or merely probing the executive mindset, The Executive Chair dispels myths about the creative process and takes the reader through the development of a pilot script.
“There are a million ways to break into Hollywood. Your journey will be unique to you. Meet all the people. Work all the angles. But most of all, enjoy the ride.” – Kelly Edwards
Kelly Edwards recently transitioned from inside the network ranks into a writing and producing deal with HBO under her Edwardian Pictures banner.
In her former executive role, she oversaw all of the emerging artists programs for HBO, HBOMax, and Turner. The pilots she produced through the HBOAccess Writing and Directing fellowships have screened at major film festivals including Tribeca and SXSW, and garnered multiple awards.
Prior to HBO, Edwards was a key corporate diversity executive at Comcast/NBCUniversal for over five years where she oversaw over 20 divisions, launched employee resource groups, and introduced diverse creative talent to NBC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and Telemundo.
Edwards’ career spans both television and film. Early in her career, she worked as a creative executive in features at both Disney and Sony under such talents as Garry Marshall and Laura Ziskin. After moving to television, she served as a senior executive at FOX where she developed LIVING SINGLE, CLUELESS, and THE WILD THORNBERRYS. While heading up UPN’s Comedy division as the SVP of Comedy Development she developed GIRLFRIENDS, THE PARKERS, and MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE.
In 2000, Edwards co-founded the non-profit organization Colour Entertainment, a networking group for diverse creative executives in TV, Film, Digital, as well as assistants, all designed to connect current and future industry executives with one another.
Kelly and I had an amazing conversation about the business, how to pitch a television project to a studio, and much more. Enjoy!
Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Kelly Edwards how you doin' Kelly?
Kelly Edwards 0:14
I'm doing great. Thank you for having me.
Alex Ferrari 0:16
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm excited to talk to you because you've got your new book coming out the executive chair, which is the executives point of view for of the entire television process, and actually what it takes to make a television show and all of that, and I really wanted to kind of dig in, because that's kind of the mystery that's like, the man or woman behind the curtain for a lot of writers. Yeah, they want to know what's going on. They all want to go to oz.
Kelly Edwards 0:44
Everybody wants to go does everybody thinks they want to go to oz?
Alex Ferrari 0:49
Oh, I understand. Everybody wants to be in the film business.
Kelly Edwards 0:52
There are a lot of wicked witches in Oz.
Alex Ferrari 0:56
And there's not nearly enough houses dropping on them. Anyway. So how did you get started in the business?
Kelly Edwards 1:04
Oh, well, let's see, I got into the business right after college, I came home. And my dad's like, you've got to, you've got to get a job. And I'm kicking you out of the house. And so I knew I needed to work. And I always wanted to be a part of the industry. I just didn't know in what capacity. And I ended up getting a sort of a hookup from a friend who was working for a very well known manager, talent manager. And he was leaving the job. And there was another person coming in a month later. And they said, Oh, would you bridge the gap between, you know, him leaving and this new person coming in, and it was only a month. And so I went to work for this manager. And then I proceeded to be terrible at it. I was just an awful assistant. And I screwed up more things than I care to admit. And before I got fired, there was another job across the street working for a casting company called the casting company. And I went I worked work there and vowed to be a better assistant that I had been before. And that was sort of you know, I was off to the races it was. I've always said that every job that I've ever had in this business has been a hook up for a friend from a friend. So one thing has led to another and led to another. I've never gotten a job as a cold call. I've never just blindly sent my internet my resume in and it had an interview. It's always been there's been some connective tissue from the last job to the next job. And so I got on this road working through as an assistant for this casting company. And one of the casting directors who was their days champion happened to be friends with a guy named Jerry was again, who was just coming off of a deal. He's just been writing with Don Segal on the Jeffersons and they were looking for an assistant. So I went to work for them. And that really was the real, I think, kickoff to what I'm doing now because I was a writer's assistant, and we were in development. And then there was a they had a show on CBS. And they weren't development on a number of projects. And I got to see the real nitty gritty of not only being in production, but also the develop development process from the writer side. And I really thought I was going to be a writer than but looking around the landscape of television at the time, there wasn't a lot of black women on shows. And, and so I decided, well look, I've got to get a job because my dad's breathing down my neck and I've got to make some money. And and so I ended up I end up going into the into the executive route, which I loved. And, you know, it was still working with the written word, it was still working with writers it was still being super, super creative. And I I went on that road for many, many years, I started in features, and then went into film, and I'm sorry, pictures. And then when I went into television and rose up the rings on the television side and then watch it at Fox worked at UPN as the head of comedy development and then decided that I needed to have another skill set because you know, there's a life expectancy to every executive and I could see my expiration date coming down the pike. And I left UPN to go have my own production company, I partnered up with a guy named Jonathan Axelrod, who had a deal at Paramount And together, we were in business for about six years, we had a show on the air, and I got to see, you know, the selling side of it, which was an incredibly important piece of the puzzle. Because as a buyer, you know, you're in this reactionary, you're receiving pitches, but you're not really in it. And then as the as the seller, and working with the studios and then going out and pitching. I was learning a whole new skill set that was really, really important to having career longevity. And so I did that for about six years and then We founded the company in 2007. And, and I went to work for NBC Universal on in the diversity capacity. And it was a very big corporate job. And I had 20 networks reporting to me and did a lot of work with the presidents of all the different divisions. We did a lot of diversity workouts and a lot of big, big gigantic projects in the diversity space. And then I went to HBO, to work for to set up their their diversity efforts, which really consisted of the writers and directors, programs, a set of topics and some photographers programs, and a lot of emerging artists programs over there.
And then, and then at the top of last year, they came to me and said, there have been a big shift, because, you know, the at&t merger had happened. And a lot of things were changing. A lot of people were, were changing chairs over there. And they came to me with a with a big offer and said, Look, you could have this, this huge, huge increase in pay, we're going to give you worldwide diversity. And you know, don't you want to do this. And I said, I said no, because by that time, over the last couple of years, I had gone back to, to school to get my MFA in screenwriting in TV writing. And also I had gotten into Sundance and the experience of those two things together really showed me that I had really been living in the wrong skin for a long time, I was probably supposed to be a writer all along. And I had poured all of my energy into making other people's dreams come true, and helping them and really learning along the way as I was teaching them about television writing. And this was my chance to do it on my own. And it was a huge risk, because, you know, you've given up a 401k and a Cush paycheck every other week, and great healthcare to, to go off on my own and start my own thing. So that was a long story. That's the that's the whole that's the whole megillah about how I got from here. But it's been a crazy, crazy, fulfilling last 12 months that I have been on my own. I do this, I'm gonna say it's a first look, HBO deal, but also I'm on a staff of a show. So it's, it's my dream has really come true over the last 12 months. And I feel like I feel so renewed where I feel like you know, many people get to this part in their career, and they just kind of go well, let me just write it out until retirement, I only have a few more years left for me just sort of enjoy it. And I'm just getting started.
Alex Ferrari 7:38
Yeah. And you know, what I love about your story is that, and this is only because of age, because as we get older, we don't realize this when we're in our 20s or even our 30s for that matter, is that your I love the comment I was in the wrong skin the entire time. And we don't kind of realize what makes us happy, too late or some people are very lucky they get that right away. But most of us don't. And but we played in the arena. We weren't the gladiators but we but we help the gladiators put their armor on. Right We were next to it. We could smell it. We organize the the the battles, if you will, if you use this analogy, but we really wanted to be in the arena. And I did that for a long time. I mean, I wasn't sure I wanted to be a director. And before I started directing, was imposed and I lived in post I was like I'm close to it. I'm adding skill sets. And that's great for a year or two but then you fast forward 10 or 15 years just like am I I'm not happy anymore. I'm like I'm not happy at this. I got to do what I love and then when I start doing what I love, then that's what made me happy. I think that's a big big lesson everyone listening should really understand is Be true to that voice inside of you. Because you can you can muffle that voice for years. It'll come back, it'll come back out. It'll come back out at one point. But you're like I've turned down my God when I was I only had two staff jobs ever in my life and I got fired promptly from both of them because I was so miserable in them, but they were Cush jobs, obscene money for the time, and I just let but I'm not happy. So it's not about the money and it's not about this it's like you guys very seductive though. Oh, so I said oh man not having to hustle for that check every week. As you know, freelancing you gotta hustle. But when you got that check coming in. oh 401k oh, I don't have to worry about healthcare. Oh it's it's it's very seductive. But it's something
Kelly Edwards 9:37
Your soul could die a little every day inside. Oh I was feeling I was feeling after a while that my soul was dying. And I knew that if even if I got out and did it for only a month or two months or I you know if I had to go back and you know, you know work work for McDonald's or you know, scrape tar For somebody shoe or something after that, that that, however many months I had would have been worth it. And that's when you know that you just have to do something, it's sort of like when we get what I think of. I'm not even sure if I'm going to articulate this well, but it's almost as though you have this light inside you. And you know that if you keep keep trying to patch it over, you know, you keep trying to sort of put something or said it doesn't really shine, but then eventually it's going to eke out somewhere, it's gonna burst out somewhere. And you might as well just open up the bag and just let it burst out everywhere. Because I've literally never had this much joy in my entire life in any job. And I loved my job. I loved working, you know, in development, it was a great experience. But there's nothing that compares to what what I've been living this last year.
Alex Ferrari 10:50
And we were talking a little bit before the before we started recording about the angry and bitter filmmaker and screenwriter. And, like, I always think the joke is, you know, in front of a film of an audience, I'll go everybody here knows an angry and bitter filmmaker. And if you don't know an angry, bitter filmmaker, screenwriter, you are the angry and bitter screenwriter, those angry and bitter filmmakers and screenwriters are the people who are not doing what they love to do, and they're in a job or in a place, that they're not fulfilling what they want, generally speaking, right? They're probably variations. But because I was, I was pissed. I was so bitter and angry. And I used to be in an editing room. And I used to see like a 25 year old walk in with a $3 million movie I'm like, and I'm looking at the movie. I'm like, this movie sucks. I'm fixing everything for this guy. And he does. He's never even seen Blade Runner. What's going on? Like, it's
Kelly Edwards 11:43
So so what changed for you then
Alex Ferrari 11:46
Kelly Edwards 11:49
Alex Ferrari 11:49
40, I was 40. And I launched Indie Film Hustle. And the film also was the thing that really took me to a place of happiness, because I was able to give back I found my I found my calling, my calling is to be an artist, and to be a creative, but in the film possible, affords me the opportunity to do that, whenever I want, when and, and also, my joy comes from writing a book, doing a podcast, writing an article, show a movie, shooting a movie, uh, speaking in front of people, I found all of that, and I was like, Oh, great, I don't have just one outlet anymore. Because if I can't, because that sucks. When you only have one outlet, if that outlet closes, you're screwed, I found five or six or eight different things that make me truly happy that gets me up in the morning. And, and they all work within the same world for the most part. So that's what kind of, and then when I turned 30, I was like, I gotta I gotta go shoot a movie. And I want to try to film my first feature, sold it to Hulu, and, you know crowdfunded into the whole thing. And that was that that was a turning point, really. But it was the audience that really gave me the strength to do that I was, I was scared to do that prior to having any film hustle. So for me, it was just like, you know what, I'm gonna go do this. And if it doesn't work, I got I got my show, and come back to my show. You know, and, and also just the joy I get to meet meeting people like yourself, you know, to sit down and talk to someone like you for an hour, there's people out there that would kill to have that opportunity to get that kind of access to someone like yourself, or any of the other wonderful guests, I get on my show. And I get that opportunity daily or weekly. And that is massive. And I get to talk to people at a very high level in the industry, and very high level executives and high level writers and Oscar winners and all this kind of stuff. And it just, it gets me jazzed.
Kelly Edwards 13:48
Right. So well you know, you said a couple of things that I think are really interesting. First of all, you didn't really wait for anybody else to give you that opportunity. Correct. You made that opportunity and not only that, but you said you found many avenues for that. And I love to tell people sometimes your vision you can't have such a myopic vision of what success looks like that you think oh I need to work at x like if you said you know to yesterday tomorrow whenever I want to go work at ABC you would then work you would then completely miss working for Hulu and working for you know, audible like your your creative muscle might might be doing something completely different. That still gives you that same satisfaction. And I think you did that you found the speaking you found the book, you found the podcast, you found the film. All of those are creative endeavors. And you're able to get that satisfaction of that love and that joy in your in your life through things that didn't necessarily look like well, I had to do my $50 million universal picture. Because I think that's what we sometimes when we when we think about oh we want this career. That's what it looks like.
Alex Ferrari 14:59
Kelly Edwards 15:00
All the things that can give you joy.
Alex Ferrari 15:02
Oh, there's absolutely no question. And I know people listening right now are like, well, what is what is success for you? Well, I have to go win an Oscar, I have to work on $100 million movie, I have to go work for Marvel or I have to go work for HBO. And do you know a game of thrones spin off and have to be in the writers? Like that's, it's a very specific goal. And my experience I don't know about you is, whenever I've made goals like that, the universe laughs at me. Because it's just does it does it never falls into, if you would have told me 10 years ago, and I would have a podcast. And that podcast would give me access to some of the biggest minds and highest big powered people in Hollywood. From my little room in Burbank, at the time when I was starting this now I'm in Austin, I would have laughed at you. Of course, it sounds ridiculous. Oh, and because of that, you're gonna be able to do this and this and this. And this, none of which were in my none of which were my plan. But you have to be open to what the universe gives you. And that's the thing that I always find. I found in my in my elder years because I'm geriatric now because I just broke my foot. But But no, in my in my years come is being open to what comes. And as a young man, I was not I was closed off. It had to be I had to be tweeting Tarantino had to be Robert Rodriguez had to be Steven Spielberg, do you have any directors walked into this? Because like, I'm going to be the next Steven Spielberg like No, you're not. Not because you're not capable. But you're talking about I'm going to be the next Michelangelo, like, that's who you're talking about. Like, there's a hand there's a handful of masters, who we all look up to. And even Spielberg was looking up to Kurosawa and Kubrick and all these other, they all do it. But you have to be the best version of you. And whatever that takes you. It's okay, as long as you're happy, and you're helping people and you're expressing yourself as an artist, and you're making a living. That's the goal of life. And that was the other thing. I don't need millions of dollars. And that was another big thing. Because a lot of people think filmmaking is about millions of dollars and fame and fortune. And when you're young, that's what you think about. But as you get older, you're like, you know, what, can I pay my bills? Can I support my family? I think I'm good. Like, I don't need, you know, $10 million a year, it'd be nice to be able to do some fun stuff with it. But it's not gonna make me happy. What makes me happiest,
Kelly Edwards 17:33
Right! I do so and it may or may not come the millions of dollars may or may not come? Who knows? And that's fine. If, if you're enjoying it. Yes, exactly. Exactly. And I think you're, you're you're just as much of a fanatic about film as I am. And I listen to your podcast. And I love the fact that you do these deep dives that you have the screenplays that you can sort of dissect on line, that I never get enough of just having conversations about content. And I think that for me, if I if I had to go work at a desk job and push paper, I would just shoot myself in a little ball. Absolutely. So any chance that I get no matter where it is, being in touch with other people who love this is life giving for me.
Alex Ferrari 18:17
Absolutely, it is a it is it is a joy to be able to do what I do every day, and I have the privilege and I tried it. I try to take advantage of it as much as I can every day. But it's about giving back Honestly, I mean, so much of our conversation, I'm asking you questions that I want answered personally. And then everybody gets to kind of listen into our conversation. These are conversations that you would have at a bar at a festival, or at a commentary or on a set. And I was like, you know, I want to have those. I've had so many of those in my career like Man, I wish I would have recording that one. Or always, you know, like that little gem that would have been great. And that's what I do for a living and I'm able to jazz myself up, but also give the opportunity to millions of people around the world to listen to to our conversations and hopefully help them along their path. Because I would have killed for an opportunity to have a podcast like mine to listen to when I was coming up in my 20s exactly Oh my god. It would have saved me but we've gone off
Kelly Edwards 19:16
Dealing with JVC tapes and you know,
Alex Ferrari 19:19
God don't don't go How old are we? Oh god Stop it. Stop it. I was cutting out a three leg. I was cutting I was cutting on a three quarter inch. Sony raises them putting putting reels together for a commercial house back in the night. And I was there I was there sell old I am. I was I was there Apple tech. For all the whole production company. I was the tech for all the computers which were all the little Macs and a little boxes. Yeah, axes. And there wasn't a Wi Fi. So in order to network everything you had to use appletalk and that was cable that you would cook and it was just like a long daisy chained cable across the entire company. And if somebody had to have I swear to God, if someone kicked one open and knocked the entire network out, and I would literally have to go and hunt down, where did they get kicked out and then plug it back. It was seen, but we have
Kelly Edwards 20:17
Okay, all right. Well, I when I was first, so I used to work on a Selectric typewriter when I was doing my first thesis and my you know, working for my, my two writers. And then I was so excited when we when we converted to Wang computers. So that was the big thing. And I loved typing on it because it made a little clicking sound. And I thought, Oh, this is so cool. So yeah, I'm gonna go toe to toe with the only person on the planet.
Alex Ferrari 20:45
Hey, listen, the struggle was real. The struggle was real. I just want to put that out there for everybody. And everyone listening is like, okay, Alex, enough with the old telling the two old farts. At least one old fart. You look much younger than me. Yeah.
Kelly Edwards 21:02
Sorry. I'm just I'm saying we're right there. This is this is the good news though. I just made a transition in my life and my career. And I'm I 30 plus years into the business. So I just turned 58. And I've just gotten stabbed for the first time. So if anybody does out there listening, go, I don't know if I can make a change. Absolutely. When I'm, you know, an adult. I've got three kids. They're all adults. They're all legal, then, you know, you can't you absolutely can't you just have to put your mind to it. And you have to make a plan. But don't ever let anybody tell you you can't make a change, man.
Alex Ferrari 21:39
Amen. Amen. Now, the executive ranks which is is a mystery to me. Executives get a bad rap. As a general statement in the film side and the television side. It's the evil executives, this is this is a lot of writers think this way. It's your evil executives who come down with their notes, they have no idea what they're doing, they don't understand what's going on. What First of all, what are the executive ranks? Is there like a specific kind of pert? You know, like, I have no idea what the ranks are. I mean, obviously, I know the studio head and head of television and things like that, but the hierarchy. And then let's first go into the hierarchy, what is the hierarchy of a standard, you know, executive ranks at a studio?
Kelly Edwards 22:27
Well, I delineate this in the book pretty early on, in laying the groundwork, because it is important for you to know what the levels are when people come in. Usually in the executive ranks, you start out as an assistant, sometimes there's a level lower than that, like an associate some of the programs that they used to have it I don't think they have any more use to start with associate, then you go to assistant and then coordinator, which is interesting, because years ago, back in the 80s, coordinator and assistant were were reversed. But now it's assistant coordinator. And the coordinator is really the junior executive on that track. And they they go from, you know, just answering phones to and creating, you know, coffee meetings, and you know, lunches, and all of that and scheduling. Travel to, okay, now you're a junior executive, and you're probably getting writer's list together, you're doing a version of notes, you're sort of you're in the meetings with the executives, and then you've got a manager. And that's even more on that scale. So as a manager, you're really fully an executive, but but you're still a junior executive, you're not necessarily running the meetings, you're not necessarily the person who's giving the notes to the higher the higher ups. But you are absolutely a utility player, you're reading a lot of scripts, and you're in the game. And then there's director level, sometimes there's an executive director level, that's really just a half step. You know, somebody, somebody HR is trying to squeeze in another steps that you don't have to get to VP, you can't be top heavy in your department. But then after director, it's VP and then Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, and then you're going to sort of get into the, you know, the president ranks of the of the company, and then you get up to CEO. So there are there are steps in there, and you learn different things at different places along the way. By the time you're a VP you are, you can be heading your own department. Usually a director is not heading their own department, but a VP would be SVP for sure. EDP is in charge of a division most likely. And then present year and taught in. And I think, also what's interesting is that the more the higher up you get, the less creative sometimes it gets. So if you're a president of the network, you're not necessarily in the creative meetings all the time. You're not necessarily hearing the pitch you you've sort of aged out of the fun stuff. And I know a number of people who, who can get to that level they go oh gosh, I really Love the process of being in the middle of it with the with the writers. And now I'm dealing with marketing and sales and
Alex Ferrari 25:07
Kelly Edwards 25:08
And ratings. Yeah, exactly.
Alex Ferrari 25:11
So how So how has the when I said the evil executives, because I mean, I mean there it's been infamous like that's in Hollywood for a long time. Can you just from the point of view of the executives now you've been on both sides of the of the table? Wow. I've heard from many writers, and, and filmmakers, there are some excellent executives out there that give great notes. And really, they have an outside perspective, and they really have an understanding of story The and to have that understanding of character, and they really do help. And then there's the the egocentric, you know, climbers who are just there to like, I can't, I gotta get I got to stick my nose into this. If not, why am I here? Kind of executive? How do you deal with that kind of an executive as a creative? And how would you, because they have the power, they have the keys to the car that you're driving. But yet, if you let them drive, they're going to run it off the road. So there's this balance of creativity versus politics, which is, there is no book that I know of, there is no course that I know of that talks about the true politics of this industry. And it is yeah, it is important to understand
Kelly Edwards 26:23
It is there are a lot of things. And I think a lot of little pieces to this, because you have to remember it's not just on the executive side that you're looking at, you're looking at the status of the writer. So if you come in and your baby writer and you're getting notes from somebody, you pretty much have to take them. If you're a baby writer who's paired up with someone who can help, then you have a different level of influence. If you are coming in and you're the you know, the top eat me Shonda Rhimes, you're not necessarily taking anybody's notes. So you're depending on what you're what you're, you know, you can listen to them or not. So I think it depends on where you are as a writer on the food chain as well. Here's the thing about executives, though, if every executive comes into the business, as someone who is a fan of entertainment, the way that we are, they hopefully they're doing the work that we are, they aren't always but they love content. So they love television shows, they love film, they love books, they love the creative side of the business, just like the writers do. They're just a different part of the process. And hopefully a good executive has taken the time to figure out you know how story what you know, they read all the good books they read, you know, the hero's journey, they read, they, they know what they're, they're talking about, some people don't do that work. And I think that's when you see a bad executive, when you see somebody who's come in who hasn't been on the production side, you can always tell I can always tell somebody has or has not been in production, because you see that they give notes that aren't doable, or workable or even make sense. But they don't know that because they're they're dealing with limited information. But the executive who is a really good executive, is trying to help you realize your dream, your goal, you have a story to tell. If you've gotten to the place where you're having a conversation with an executive, it's because they like your work. So already, that's a good thing. It's not like they're coming in and saying, Hey, I read your script, and I hate it. And let me you know, tear it apart for you. That's not the goal. Everyone's goal is always with good intention. So they're going to see your material and say, This is how I think you can make it better. Sometimes the way that they deliver those notes is not great, is it can be demoralizing. I think, again, that's part of the executives journey on trying to figure out how do they become the best executive they can be. And they may be. I was telling, I was talking to the director on our show this today, who happens to be Joe Morton, who's who's in our show. And I said, I just cringe at some of the notes that I must have given as a junior executive, back in the 80s. I want to apologize to every single person that I ever gave a note to back then because I am sure I came with so much arrogance, thinking Oh, I know better than you do. And I'm going to help you make this better. Not realizing that that's not the way to to anybody's heart. And I say now I actually don't give notes anymore. I I asked questions. Because I realized along the way that the writer had a goal in mind. If they didn't make that, that if they didn't hit the mark, then it's not because they didn't try is that there's probably some missing information you probably haven't earned those moments. You probably haven't given us enough information about The character you haven't done it done the hard work, but there's something missing. That's that's not connecting. So I ask questions because usually through a process of asking questions there's a revelation that happens for the writer it's not I'm dictating the note to you but it's I'm helping you discover what you want to say and how to say it better and that's how I put things down but people don't come into the business to be horrible to be to be to be negative and they're the goal is let me help fix it. And I think that's sometimes where the disconnect is between writers and and executives in a writer can can receive that information in a terrible way if it's not if it's not given with the spirit of collaboration
Alex Ferrari 30:49
Right and there's always that thing called ego as well that gets thrown into the mix on both sides of the table this is the deal and as we get older we you're right when oh god the arrogance when you um I couldn't even sit in a room My head was so big when I was younger oh my god and my 20s oh my god it was I will fix it you have obviously you people who've been in the business for 20 years you don't understand I'm here to exactly I'm here to fix this Just listen to me I know that we will guide you right to the promised land now how has how has streaming changed the game because you You came up in a time when there was no internet no streaming there was no Netflix there was none of that stuff both of us did. So in the 80s and 90s you know we were still you know, there was cable and then there was more shows but now there's literally how many how many scripted shows are there now the 1000 a year?
Kelly Edwards 31:44
Yeah probably a gajillion I'm sure
Alex Ferrari 31:45
It's insane how is the game changed and it's a lot of the stuff that we're talking about still apply in the streaming world as well as the network world or has streaming completely changed the paradigm
Kelly Edwards 31:58
It has changed it in very significant ways. And in some ways it hasn't changed at all. You still need a camera at a script and an actor so that doesn't change it's not like the it's revolutionized to the point where we don't recognize what we're doing. It's it's very similar in that way. You still call cut you still call to action and but it's changed it in obviously how the business works. monetarily change Did you ever zoom in on the executive residuals well yeah residual Exactly. But if you think about it even on the executive track you know if you go from working at a regular network to going to work for Netflix you all of a sudden become a millionaire in a couple of years so it's changed a bit a big way you know every no how's that work? No.
Alex Ferrari 32:47
So how is that work holiday let's back up for a second so if you're an executive working at CBS, then you jump over to Netflix why at Netflix is your what is the compensation difference? Why is it it's just because Netflix is just giving money away? Like it's water? Oh, yeah.
Kelly Edwards 33:01
Oh, yeah, it's it's many times just putting a time is next to that number. It's double, triple, quadruple what you can get paid at a regular network. But they also don't have contracts, they also don't have the same kind of titles. So things are different. You know, I don't think that they have pension plans in the way that you know, you have a 401k at an at another network. So I do think that there's given take a little bit but yeah, you are getting paid. Some nice, nice paychecks are coming into your direct deposit. But it's changing also in a lot of other ways in that if you think about the way people are developing content, obviously when when we went to from broadcast and a certain number of act breaks now let's go let's let's actually jump back in time, let's back in the time when I was coming up, and I was working for Don and Jerry, you know, we were working in for camera tape shows, you know, and we were looking at quad splits and we were and the directors were in the booth and they were you know, she kept the shots. It's very, very different that we went into more when I was working at UPN in particular we started to work in more of the single camera area and by that time you know Seinfeld was around and so shows became have our comedies were not just two acts with a you know, a teaser and a tag. All of a sudden it's three acts. It's you know, when Seinfeld came out the scenes were so much shorter. They were a lot of you know, comedy stings. And there's just a lot of things that change in terms of the, the way that we made shows if you watch the the pilot of Sex in the City, they have these little Chi rods in it, there's a lot of DIRECT address. There was a lot of gimmicks that were happening around that time. We don't see those necessarily as much as we do we did then. So things are always changing the evolution of television, always changing the boundaries in terms of what you can and cannot say, are always changing. When you get to streamers, we're now dealing with no act breaks. You know, we had that it. We had that at HBO, we had the HBO and Showtime and all that. But now we're dealing on a massive scale with no act breaks for your, for your, your shows. So you have to make sure that you are keeping a structure to it so that things are moving forward. Oh, there are you have to do, you have to find a way to get people to push next episode in a way that you didn't have to before. So in broadcast from before, you'd show up every Thursday night for mercy TV, or you show up every Monday night for whatever you're showing up for. And it was one episode at a time. And now we're in bingeing. But in order to get somebody to binge on the writer side, my goal is now to get someone to binge. Well, I then have to figure out what is going to get them to binge. That means a more serialized kind of storytelling. And that means I need to find a way at the end of episode one to get you to press episode, you know to get to next episode. So that changes storytelling quite a bit, you have to figure out a whole new paradigm for telling a story that might have been really successful as a one off. Let's just say you're doing lawn order SBU and everything is self contained. Well, the good news about lawn orders to you is that you might want to do next episode, just because you love Mariska Hargitay, but there's no reason that you need to do it next episode. Unlike watching queens Gambit, I have to get to the next one because the story's not finished. So we're dealing with very, very different ways of storytelling that we didn't have before.
Alex Ferrari 36:57
Yeah, like, you know, watched castle that was, you know, that was on forever on an ABC. And that was a procedural show. It had a small arc through the season, but it was a procedural show a fun, procedural SBU. So every week basically, it was a self contained episode, but there was a small like, will she ever find her mother who killed her father or something like that? There's always that one little arc that carries throughout the entire episode, or the entire series a season. But then something like Queen's gambit. Like that's just crack. It was absolutely it was absolute
Kelly Edwards 37:31
Or squid game. If you watch squid game
Alex Ferrari 37:32
I have not seen it yet. I my wife says no, because that means I have to do it on my own now and that's gonna take me more time to do because she saw she's like, that looks violent. I'm like
Kelly Edwards 37:43
It is so it's terrible.
Alex Ferrari 37:46
I've been hearing nothing about it. I have to but I have to watch it. I have to watch it right, or Narcos, when Narcos was the first three seasons of Narcos was just like Jesus every week he just wanted to keep every week every episode you want to keep going. And it just changes the whole way. You look at story structure. You were saying evolution? You know there was one. There was one show that really changed the game. I'd love to hear your point of view on it. You know when the sopranos showed up? And David chase created the sopranos. It really just changed everything. Like it changed. storytelling and television. And you know, you had you know, Breaking Bad Mad Men, Dexter, Game of Thrones, right? All of these the lineage goes right back to the sopranos, pre Sopranos. a show like Breaking Bad would have never even It was tough to even get breaking up the air.
Kelly Edwards 38:41
I really wanted a shield Come on, it was that just before it was around the same time it
Alex Ferrari 38:46
It was I think it was either around the same time or a little bit after this a little bit after I think the sopranos was the first time that was that anti hero. In a way. It was the episode The episode. It's fresh in my mind now because I just had the pleasure of talking to David chase on the show. And and that was a that was a trip. There was an episode five, I think it was episode four or five. It was happening. It was Episode Five was called college where Tony strangled a rat. On Air, like full blown. The rat didn't do anything to him. It wasn't like the guy what? And HBO had a major problem with it. They're like you're going to destroy this character before he even gets off the ground. Nobody's gonna want to follow this guy. He's your little and they murder him right on, like a glorious daylight like it's bright and everything. And that was the moment it shifted. Because prior to that, you just saw instances of that, but you never saw the brutality of Tony Soprano. And that moment, after that episode came on, everybody was even more jazzed about seeing the show. And the executives were like, oh, things are changing. We we don't need to have a hero anymore. We don't need To have a guy who has moral a moral compass, we can root for the pet guide. And that was right. It kind of just shifted everything. And movies have been doing that for a while. I mean, I mean, Goodfellas. You know, if you want to go into that genre, I mean, we were all sure we were all rooting for Scarface. I mean, you could I mean, we are all falling, but in television that would never done never ever prior to that. So what did you What's your opinion on the legacy of the sopranos and then also these other shows that kept pushing the envelope after the sopranos like a Breaking Bad like a madman, like, like, Dexter for serial killer. We're rooting for.
Kelly Edwards 40:42
Yeah, and I remember being out there, I think around the time that Dexter came out with something similar. We were pitching something with a with a couple writers under my deal at Paramount, and yeah, it was a it became a big thing. I think, I think a couple things happen at the same time, which is, when you think about the sopranos, it was remarkable. And I would love to I did not hear your David Chase.
Alex Ferrari 41:07
It just came out. It just came out, as of this week, as of this recording. Came out right there. So you can listen to that, like,
Kelly Edwards 41:13
Where is he? Like, what is he doing now? Because I, I mean, he dropped,
Alex Ferrari 41:19
He dropped the mic. That's basically I dropped the mic situation like he he's been in television for what 40 years braved the rock for files and all this stuff. But then he was given that opportunity to do the sopranos. And when he was doing the sopranos, he literally just like, I don't care. I'm gonna do it my way. And I'm gonna be bold, and I'm gonna fight for whatever I want to do. And that's and they just let HBO let them do it. It's an it's a weird. Just everything aligned. So perfect. Right at that. The timing for a show like that. And I think and I think HBO was really trying to get into television, and they're trying to make Yeah, big swings, right? And they took that. And I actually said that to David. I was like you I'm so glad you took the swing at the back because we need creators on the on Bay at home plate, taking those swings. And I go, what would what would have happened if you would have missed because it Sopranos could have absolutely missed, right? And he's like, Oh, no, I would have just gone back into something else.
Kelly Edwards 42:19
I don't care. Yeah, it was low stakes for him, I guess. Because Yeah, for I and correct me if I'm wrong, but my guess is, I think the story was that he had it at Fox first. And they didn't want to do it. Well, it was
Alex Ferrari 42:31
It was a feature. It was a feature. And, and he he wrote a feature first and he still tried to go around town with it. Nobody wanted it that somebody at HBO pitched him an idea about it wasn't a feature about the mob. It was about. It was about a studio executive who had an issue with his mother, his psychotic mother, because it's based on his life. That's his mom. The Sopranos mother is his mother.
Kelly Edwards 42:58
So when they say right, which, you know, right, which you know, it's
Alex Ferrari 43:01
exactly that, but then someone's like, hey, do you want to do a mob, a mob show? And then he then he connected the two. And that's how, and that's how the sopranos game. And then he did pitch it. I think, I'm not sure who who paid. I got to HBO somehow. And then HBO said yes, to whatever I mean, I mean, the episodes the first season was, and they just kept going with it. But then it was just this, this magic that you can't, as a writer, as a writer, and a creator, you could do so much on the page, but then the actors show up, then the director show, then the location show up, and then you're rewriting there. And then on the edits, you're rewriting there, it's like it's, he said, it was like when you saw Tony talking to this other character, you're like, Oh, I didn't see that before. Why don't we try this? That's a magic that it's lightning in a bottle. You can't get the free, you know, this as well as anybody having the freedom that he had, at that budget range on a network like HBO is unheard of, especially at the time. Right? basically let the the lunatics run the asylum for a minute. And then by the time Yeah, and by the time the show was off, the lunatics completely, do whatever they wanted. Along the way
Kelly Edwards 44:17
Exactly. But that But see, here's the thing. Remember that? When I went to HBO, they make you read a book, at least they write made me read a book about the history of HBO, and they talk about the fact that it started off with, you know, sports and movies and Fraggle Rock, would you go that doesn't make any sense amazing Fraggle Rock, and then you've got Dream on and some of those shows that we're trying to burst out, then didn't make it really, you know, for the long haul. And by the way, where is Brian? Ben Ben, because I think three years Thank you. So I feel like then, and then they had to court. big name. They had a court people, they did court people because they didn't just like when I was at foxing UPN. We were the also RANS and Everybody wants to go to NBC and ABC and CBS because that's what everybody knew. And so when you're building a fledgling network, you need to, to entice people and so we we kept going out to people and saying, you can do whatever you want. Why do you want to do just push the envelope? We can't look like a ABC and CBS, we have to look different than they do. What? What would you like to do? We'll, we'll let you have creative freedom. I think that's probably what HBO was doing at the same time, which was like, let me bring the Michael Patrick kings over, let me bring the Darrin stars, we bring the David chases, let me bring the people who would like some creative freedom who have the ability to run a show, and who have something that has, that's a big swing, and let's just give them the keys to the kingdom. And then they had, you know, the David Simon's of the world and they they took off with that model of let's let the creator be the Creator. So I do think that there was probably an evolution to at HBO that was saying, how do we entice people over here because we need to be not the weird thing on the side of
Alex Ferrari 46:09
They were not able they weren't cable they're not even Fox or UPN whether they were networks. This is cable, it was like oh,
Kelly Edwards 46:18
How do you do that you make it really really enticing and you take a big swing on something that nobody else is going to do and what's that well nudity, it's going to be violence it's going to be pushed content and it's going to be freedom for your creatives to come in
Alex Ferrari 46:33
And as an oz came out before Sopranos which was also a very big show as well but it was different than the sopranos how they they worked it and it's it you know doing doing the research I did on on that episode just as you look at us it's just it's one of those moments that just changed television forever and and and we wouldn't have i mean i'm a big Breaking Bad fan like I love Vince Gilligan and I love everything he does and and you would have never had a show like that it barely got on yeah get right they got on to a network a network a cable network like AMC that like what do you don't you play like Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind you want to make shows now. So that's the only reason again let the lunatic in. Let's but
Kelly Edwards 47:22
I think madman's the same thing. Yeah. Matt was like, you know, he was on the sopranos, he he was right. He had this thing that he loved and, and then somebody allowed him to do the thing that he loved. And he just went for it. 100%. And he asked, Where do you get those?
Alex Ferrari 47:38
Sorry? No, no, no, I'm sorry, Matt. They asked Matt, like, would you have been able to make madmen without Sopranos? And he's like, no, first, I wouldn't have been able to make it because it didn't exist. Secondly, I wouldn't have been able to make it because I didn't get to sit in that writers room for as many years as I did, and see how David broke it down and break down his stories and stuff. One other thing that was really interesting about and I'll get off the sopranos kick in a minute, but it's, it's just good. It's just a good educational television conversation. He now he loved doing singular stories episodes, that literally didn't really feed the plot of the series. Just like character development, just like right episodes of just like, Hey, we're just going to talk about these three characters that have nothing to do with the overarching arc of the scene. That was also new. That was something that was it's not a procedural it's it's it's the right so it was like a weird I
Kelly Edwards 48:30
Love that. Don't but don't you want more of that? Yes. I feel like I want more of that. And I don't feel like I get enough of that. I feel like sometimes we are. There's so much of a draw. And again, it gets back to executives who's got the courage to just let you have a two person conversation between you know what to do a play. Why don't we do more of that? Why don't we just sort of sit in the moment
Alex Ferrari 48:53
It takes it takes a it takes some courage. It takes some courage and he was able to do it early on like episode like Episode Five college is that is that that episodes his favorite. And that's the one that really changed. That's when the sopranos became the sopranos was Episode Five. And it was that whole episode had nothing to do with the story. It was about his relationship with his daughter, and this rat that just came out of nowhere. And the executive forced him to make an scene to make the rat look a little bit worse than he did originally, there wasn't even a scene. It was just like, Tony just killed a random guy that he says because they were scared that they were really scared. It was such edgy stuff at the time. And now you look at something like Dexter, which is like you're literally following a serial killer. And, and you're rude,
Kelly Edwards 49:42
But a serial killer with a moral code. That's the thing right? And you're invited into his thought process and you understand why he got the way he got. They were very, very smart about how they constructed Dexter I think, and how you really went along for that ride because you're just killing the bad guys. And who wouldn't want that.
Alex Ferrari 49:59
It's Yeah, it's when you're writing like that. And when you're creating a show like that, or a character like that, it is such a razor that you're dancing on. It's the bullet the blade of a razor, you're just like, at any moment, you can slip and get your head cut off. I mean, it's great, because if you're if you do one scene the wrong way, or you break that code that you've created, just just a smidge, you lose your audience. So you're on the creative, bloody edge of writing. And it's this is a terrible visual, but it's all visual. It's a horrible visual, but it's but it's you're really our omens dexterous, that's why I was bringing this horrible visual into mine. But your, as a writer, you you are dancing, a very, very thin line. If you if you just go a little bit off, you can lose an audience. And that's why I think in that episode of Sopranos, the executives were like, I think, I think you're going way off the reservation here. And nobody's like, well, no one's ever gone that far. Let's see what happens. And oh, right there with us. They're still with us. Oh, they want more. And, and you keep going. But again, Tony Soprano as a character, his, his, he had somewhat of a moral compass. And he wasn't just a horrible bad guy. He was a horrible human being. But yeah, you fell for him because of his mother issues.
Kelly Edwards 51:21
Right! Well, he was but again, you know, go back to the Godfather. Everybody has a code. And they he followed the code. And so what he was doing, he had completely understandable reasons for what he was doing, even though we wouldn't do that. It made sense in his world. And I think that that's when you when you do misstep is because you completely got out of the work. Here's a perfect example of that. I was just having this conversation yesterday was somebody about walking dead when they killed Glenn. Oh, and they said they crossed the line, because that's not the world they'd set up for us. That's they completely took our trust. And then they bashed it when they bashed his head in. And I stopped watching I was a rabid rabid fan, yes, loved every moment of it. But when neguin did that, I said well, that they have betrayed my trust, and I will no longer I will no longer give them my time. So I think you have to make sure that you're working within the rules of the world too.
Alex Ferrari 52:15
So can I also say I was a rabid Walking Dead fan, until Negan showed up. And it wasn't for me it wasn't the moment that he hit Glen that was pretty horrible and painful. But for me, it was a whole season because they made a cardinal mistake in that they created a villain that was too powerful. He they never gave him any wins. You didn't I don't know if you saw that scene or not, but they never gave any wins to our heroes that we loved. The problem with a villain is they have to be able to be balanced with the hero the hero has to have the ability to beat the villain. If not, it's a boring show, or a boring game story and that's the mistake they did because there was no the whole season it was just they were just getting beat up and be rocky was getting pummeled again and again by Apollo play and he never got a shot and and at the
Kelly Edwards 53:10
Lost battle every single episode exactly right. And then at
Alex Ferrari 53:13
The end of this at the end of that episode that season, they're like, Oh, look, you got to punch in FU. Screw you, man. I am angry. And we and we stopped watching. So even a show like that cuz and then you start and when neguin showed up, you saw that the ratings just go. They start dropping, because before walking dead was like the biggest show on television. Right. But neguin showed up and they handled it. That was that bloody edge I was talking about, right and mishandled it and the zombies had got cut off, I'm sorry.
Kelly Edwards 53:48
It was such a beautiful, beautiful show up into that point, it went really well.
Alex Ferrari 53:52
It was a wonderful show. Before that, I have to ask you, you've probably seen a bunch of pilots, you've written a few pilots in your life, I'm sure what makes a good pilot,
Kelly Edwards 54:01
That's like, wow, you just completely you want to be with that
Alex Ferrari 54:05
I just making you with that. I just love from cutting zombies head off to bam.
Kelly Edwards 54:12
Obviously, there are a number of things that make a good pilot, it's not just one thing, but it's a confluence of things you have to be you have to be timely. So even if that thing does not take place in this time, it needs to be relevant to that to today. So I think you have to be seeing something that makes a really great pilot, you need a great character with a new very unique point of view. And you need a construct or a world that they are in that is antithetical to who they are. So that makes the world hard for them to navigate. And I think if you have those things, you have the makings of a great pilot. So if you think about any of your, your favorite pilots, let's get back to Breaking Bad. He is a very nice chemistry teacher and he gets into the most violent world possible. So he is a very, he's got a very specific set of skills, just like Liam Neeson does. And taken, he has very specific set of skills, he is ill equipped to handle them against a very formidable world that he is entering into. So it's completely antithetical to who he is. And I think at the time, it was very, it was a, you know, we're dealing with, you know, epidemics constantly in terms of the drug world. So, I think it's incredibly prescient kind of television making. Think about any of your favorite pilots think about if you think about scandal, I talked about scandal in my in the book, and you've got a, a woman who is a hard charger, she's a badass from the very moment that she shows up on screen. And even before that, because there's a scene before she shows up on screen. And you have a character telling another character, don't you want to be a gladiator and a hat? Gladiator for this for, for Olivia? And the woman goes, yes, of course, I want to be Gladiator. And then you cut to Olivia Pope. At the time, I think it was a different name, but cut to her coming in. And she's she the way they described her in the in the, in the script. And on screen. She's just a badass. And then she comes into a scene where she's negotiating basically a kidnapping, and then you realize the kidnapping, they've kidnapped a baby. And you just go, I'm so sucked in. And I cannot wait to see what happens next, because I've never seen this character before. So she's a very, very great, amazing character. And what what world is she in she's she's a rebel, a rebel, she's a cowboy. She's in one of the most highly regulated rule. I don't know. regimented kind of businesses in the world. She's in politics, and only that but she's in love with the president united states. So we've set everything up against her she's gonna have to come up against the most formidable foes we tweet. And it's exciting and we're, we're leaning forward. And we're all into politics. We've all been in politics and you know, Brock, Obama's president, maybe it was, even Bill Clinton, where there were really charged, you know, sexy men. And then in the, in the White House, like, there's a lot of stuff that that you can sort of glean from probably the time that it was it came out along with his character and this particular place, but you want to then lean forward into character and into the world. So if you have those things, you're going to have a really great shot at pulling a pilot together.
Alex Ferrari 57:50
But so from what you've just said, the one thing I grabbed on to was that unlike movie, because you only have 90 minutes to two hours in a movie, you generally have a villain, you have one villain, maybe two or three or group of villains. But there's, there's a very specific, you know who the bad guy is. Whereas in those both those shows, yes, there are some adversaries, but there are brand new adversaries that can come in on a weekly basis, season wide basis, that will constantly give the character the leader that lead character issues. So I'm breaking bad. He's basically you're you're entering a new world. And in that world, there is 1000 things that can kill you. And that's what's exciting, as opposed to on Batman, you're the Joker. And that's the series that doesn't work that and I think that's where a lot of pilots make mistakes, if they lean you up against a villain and that could be one villain across a season, maybe even two or three seasons. But there are also others come you really should be. And correct me if I'm wrong, in Intellivision that we're talking about and we could talk about the sopranos, Mad Men, Dexter, all of them. They're not against one person or even a small group. It's generally an environment a world that they're entering, that there's 1000 places where they can get they can get their heads cut off. And absolutely, that's what makes really interesting television. Is that the fair statement?
Kelly Edwards 59:20
Yeah, they have to have many photos. Because it's if you whether you do it it's one it's like an SBU we go back to SBU or you go back to you know, whatever those procedurals are they're going to be it's going to be the bad guy of a week. Sure. But then there's got to be Yeah, a system in place it's the world is a is a dangerous place. So I have to fix the world. So yes, it's you're absolutely right.
Alex Ferrari 59:44
And it just keeps in that and that opens you up for many seasons. You can keep going. Exactly. Like with with Heisenberg, he, there was a point there was an end point there was a certain point where like You there was even even my wife when she was watching it with me. She was like, he's he's starting to cross the line a bit. He's not the guy I started liking. I'm not rooting for him anymore. He's turning into why am I Why do I like why am I following that guy? And that that it took us off the show still was a genius, so, but there were moments that you're just like, he's not a good guy anymore. He's not doing what he's doing. And he even said, He's like, I don't I'm not doing it before I first it was for my family. Now is because I like it. And you're just like, Oh, this is awesome. He's so is. It was like what it said, is turning Mr. Chips into Scarface.
Kelly Edwards 1:00:38
And Right, right. And it's and I think that that's also the beauty of Now, again, when you talk about dreamers, and how are things how have they changed, we're no longer necessarily going to 100 episodes. So we don't have to keep it open for forever, you can have a story that does arc like a movie over, you know, five season eight episodes, or whatever it is that you can tell the story that that needs to be told in that amount of time. And you don't have to belabor it, and you can see an end game, which I think is it actually makes our content better. You know, when you think about something like lost and you go Oh, lost was probably trying to figure out Hey, let's throw another monster.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:20
They were lost. They were lost. Yeah, they were definitely go.
Kelly Edwards 1:01:23
Well, it was probably a factor of Well, we've got a we've got another 22 episodes. What do we do now? We have to figure it out. Let's bring in what were those characters the three characters that nobody liked, and everybody wanted to kill off a monster. It's like the same
Alex Ferrari 1:01:39
Monster. It was I stopped I couldn't. The pilot was fantastic. It was wonderful. But at a certain point, you just like what's going on? And you're absolutely right. They needed to fill air. As opposed to the streamers you don't like I know Stranger Things has, I think they're going to do five seasons. And that's it. And I think Cobra Kai, another big show on Netflix. They're only going to do five seasons. And that's it. Like there's an out like there's only so many more seasons, we can see how many more characters you can bring back from The Karate Kid universe. Like at a certain point you're like, Ah, okay, so now Daniel and and Johnny are okay, they're fighting together against the ultimate bad guys. Okay, they're bringing back the guy from Karate Kid three. Okay, we ran out after Karate Kid three. So how many more seasons do we got here, guys? And they know in the Creator, Mr. Miyagi is not coming back. It would have been Mr. Miyagi would have been amazing magic Pat, was still alive. Oh, my God, I know, I would have made that show even better than it is. But anyway. Let me ask you, what are you up to now? What do you What's the what are the new shows you're working on now.
Kelly Edwards 1:02:44
I am a staff writer on a new show that just premiered on Fox, Tuesday nights at nine called our kind of people it is amazing. I have had the best time of my life working in this writers room. And it was again, it was a goal from when I was first in the you know, coming out of the gate, and never got a chance to get in the writers room. And this has been an amazing, an incredibly fulfilling ride for me. So we started in May, at the end of May. In the writers room, we are now shooting Episode 107, we have an order for 12. So we're writing episodes 910 1112. And it's I learned a lot I've learned a tremendous amount. I thought I knew a lot about the business and about development before I got in here, which has helped me quite a bit. But also just being in the writers room and seeing how stories are broken, and how things change and the reasoning for certain things and how to protect characters in the show. And it's been just phenomenal. And every single day is like Christmas. I cannot wait to get to work every day.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:57
Isn't that a great feeling? It's like we skip to work. Yeah. It's like you. Yes. It's like you skip to work and a smile on my face every day. And it's it's hard for people to understand, and I'm not doing it to rub into anybody's noses here that listening like Hahaha, no, it took us a long time to get here. And now we're like, oh, I'm happy. And you know, I'm like, it's just such a fulfilling feeling. As opposed to like, Okay, I got some money, but I'm miserable. I got that big paycheck. But I'm miserable. I'm like, Oh, the paycheck might be smaller, but I'm happy. And as you get older you realize happiness is a really big thing. Much more than money. Well, it's much I mean, you need money to live but at a certain point like okay, what's, where do I have enough? And I don't have to great doing something I don't like just to get more money to do what it's like happiness means so much more. And being creative is even. And being creative is even more than that. Now I'm going to ask you a few questions asking my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life
Kelly Edwards 1:05:00
I will say this, this sort of ties into what what you were saying and what we're talking about. I got. I was married for 23 years, the last five, we were separated. So my big lesson was that I deserve joy. And I wasn't living in joy. And didn't I deserve to live in joy. And so I had white knuckled it for quite a while. Now this is granted, I'm best friends. I love him so much. My ex husband is an amazing person. We are besties, we talk multiple times, we're always on. We're always texting. So I don't this is not about him. This was about I think this was really about being in the right place. And being the right being the right me being 100% mean. And when I found the right combination of what I needed in my life, my joy level just shut up. Incredibly. And I think it was all precipitated by the divorce because the divorce in 2015, when we started divorce proceedings, the year of 20 2016 was I did a year Yes. And I just say yes to every single thing. And I ended up on six different continents got a tattoo met, the Dalai Lama was at the White House twice. I was I just had a complete I did, I asked twice, I just had this complete, let's just busted open and do all the things that I felt like I had missed along the way. I had kept living in this very, very tiny little box and thinking that I was like, Oh, I'm an executive, I've got it all, whatever it is. And I thought to myself, what have I not tried? And why have I said to myself, that I needed to do certain things in a certain way. So I just started living a bigger life. And part of that was I needed to not be attached to my ex husband. Because I felt like he was part of that rigidity of you have the kids, you have the house, you have the dogs, and you don't do certain things. So I kind of went off the rails a little bit in 2016, which then snowballed into, let's go back to two to get my education. my MFA, I was almost gonna say High School. Let's get out of high school, it kind of felt like it. But I went back to school, I applied to Sundance and again, it was I was thinking, Well, what why? Why would I ever move out of this executive box? Because I'm, everyone's gonna know me in a certain way, you can't switch? I always have that mindset. You know, I was I was drinking that Kool Aid. And then I went, well, why? Why was I thinking that? So why not change that thinking, just start to challenge, everything, every assumption that I had made about my life, and get back to what I wanted to be and who I wanted to be when I was 15 and 1413 years old, loving content and movies and wanting to be a writer. So it really did take 35 years for me to get there longer. But it was so worth it. Because again, it's about living enjoy. And why was I why was I okay, not living in joy every day.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:22
Oh, because we could talk ourselves into a lot of stuff gateway. Oh, God, can we? Yeah, yes. But actually, when that check shows up?
Kelly Edwards 1:08:29
That's right. But if there's one, let me be honest, you know, I, my transformation, let's just say my becoming the butterfly out of the cocoon. I don't know, for everybody, I'd like to think it is. But I have friends who complain about being where they are, and just and never make the move and don't change. And I then have to say, look, I I appreciate that you are feeling this way. But I can't listen to this anymore. Because either you do something or you don't. But not everybody is equipped to make that move. And I completely understand that. And that can be their journey in their life. And that's okay. So what I say I went out and I made a big change it just not to mean that everybody needs to go out and quit their job and completely go off the rails and do something different. It worked for me because I think I had I had set myself up for it. There was a chain of events that made sense for it. I did go back to school and might get my degree. You don't have to do that. But I was working and I was writing and then I was starting to show my stuff on social media. And I was getting positive feedback that they gave me courage to go back to school that gave me courage to go to Sundance that they gave me courage to be to say no to a big opportunity at HBO. So there was a very specific chain of events. I didn't just walk in and quit and say I'm just doing this I was financially ready to do it. I had saved some money. I was rolling into a first look deal at HBO. So I Have a support system. So there were things that happened that made it possible. But as you started off talking about the universe, the universe making plans, you make plans, and then the universe blows them apart. The universe also will catch you if you're living in that truth. And I had a perfect example of that, which is not only was when I said, I'm going to leave HBO, and when they when Christina Becker had kept coming to me, and she said, Do you want to have this big motion? I said, I really don't I'm, I'm content to sit here for another 18 months off my contract. And I'll just write and I'll just enjoy it. And I know the job, I'll just write it out. And she said, Send me your script. She read the script within 48 hours, and she called me back and she said, No, you have to do this. Well, that's part of the universe say, there's support there in a big way. And by July, I had my deal in place, I was rolling out. And I was rolling into a deal. So the universe was then providing funding finances for me. Now, did I take a big hit? financially, yes, it's half of what I made at HBO. But it was still it was enough. And that's all I needed was enough. So I got this deal. And a week after I left HBO, so it was a Thursday. That was my, my last night was a Thursday, July 17, something like that was my last day at HBO. The last day I was gonna get a paycheck from, from my regular job, and I was rolling into this deal is gonna pay me half. And a week later, I had the book deal. A week later, I got the call that I had the book deal. So again, it's the universe saying, You think you're going to fall off the face of the earth, you think you're probably going to drown, you don't know what's going to happen, you may or may not sell anything, you may or may not get on staff. Guess what I'm going to give you I'm going to show you this book, this book is going to come and be part of the next part of your life. And I had that book to deal with, deal with to write over the next four or five, six months or whatever. And it was, again another another piece of the puzzle. So I do feel as though even though we sometimes feel as though the universe's is kicking us in the teeth constantly, the universe can also bring us some of these blessings and joy that we are expecting that can help nurture and satisfy us in a different way.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:18
And where can people find your new book executive, the executive chair
Kelly Edwards 1:12:24
It's going to be released on Amazon next week, on Tuesday, the 12th so that's, so by the time this comes out, it might already have been but it's gonna be on Amazon, it will be on mwp.com. The Michael weezy Productions website, it will eventually be at Barnes and Noble. I think you can probably search for it online and probably find other booksellers that that will have it but but if you like it, please leave it. Leave it out. Yeah, a nice review on Amazon. I hope people get something out of it. My goal with the book is really to give people the tools that they might not have otherwise had about how to navigate some of the ins and outs of the industry and to know what's an executive head so that you can navigate that more effectively than you might have not otherwise had the had that advantage. So it's with good intentions but I put that out there in the world.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:23
Kelly It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you on the show today. I know we can keep going for a little while longer for sure. We could geek out about television for a while but I appreciate you coming on the show and thank you for putting the book together. And I wish you nothing but the best in your new endeavors and I'm not to sound condescending, but I'm proud of you. I'm proud that you that you took the you jumped it's the it takes bravery to leave a cushy job and to leave a good paycheck and and and as you get older it gets even more risky so that you did it and you've landed on your feet and you're happy is a hopefully an example that everybody listening can can take to heart so thank you so much Kelly.
Kelly Edwards 1:14:04
Thank you for having me. This has been amazing. And I appreciate what you do. This is what you do is is is just gives me like it really does I love with your podcast. So thank you for having me.
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