The Official Weblog of Sheldon Bull
Television Sitcom Writer, Producer, and Director.
The Male Room

I watched the first two episodes of the new series Silicon Valley on HBO. If you haven’t seen it or heard of it yet, it’s the creation of Mike Judge, of Beavis and Butthead fame, and two other male writers. Basically, it’s a more overtly satirical version of David Fincher’s excellent 2010 film, The Social Network.

Like The Social Network, Silicon Valley revolves around a group of young male computer nerds (which may be a triple redundancy.)  The nerds of Silicon Valley are even more socially inept than ...

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Posted by Sheldon Bull at 4/15/2014 1:03 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
If I Had It To Do Over Again...

I drove to UCLA yesterday afternoon to participate in a panel discussion about writing comedy for TV. My friend, Ed Scharlach, was the moderator. The other panelists were Lee Aronsohn, who co-created Two and a Half Men, Billy Grundfest, who produced Mad About You, and Howard J. Morris, who created Sullivan and Son and is now developing a Netflix series for Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.

A woman in the audience asked me, if I could write my book, Elephant Bucks, over again, how would ...

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Posted by Sheldon Bull at 3/23/2014 1:09 PM | View Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Be A Rising Star

My wife and I had dinner tonight with two dear friends, she a retired director and he a former talent manager and nightclub operator. One of the comments from her was, “I talk to these kids today who are trying to make it, and they seem so clueless. They dream, but they don’t do anything about their dreams.” 

Neither of our friends came from show business families. She grew up in New York City. He moved there after college. He started as an actor and stand-up comedian, then became ...

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Posted by Sheldon Bull at 3/2/2014 12:39 AM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Spec Pilot Characters

As I have said often on this blog, I think that writing spec scripts for your favorite series is a good way to learn the form of half-hour sitcom writing, or any TV writing. But as I have also frequently pointed out, a spec script for an existing series is no longer the preferred calling card for aspiring TV writers. The spec pilot is what agents and executives want to read.

As I have also frequently stated, a pilot script is a challenge for even ...

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Posted by Sheldon Bull at 1/26/2014 1:31 PM | View Comments (14) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Holiday Movie Magic

I feel truly blessed this holiday season. I have a job that I love (however briefly it may last.)  I got to go to New York two weeks ago to hear a play of mine read. (My deepest thanks to those who attended, two of you from as far away as Virginia and Philadelphia!)  I attended a wedding in Manhattan for two of the most important people in my life, Arnold Margolin and his bride, Ellen. I spent time in New York with friends, old and new. I ...

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Posted by Sheldon Bull at 12/29/2013 4:39 PM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
800 Words About Spec Pilots

The two essential ingredients for a successful pilot are complex and fascinating characters and a sustainable premise.

The biggest mistake I made when I was writing pilots was that my main character was too often a nice, normal guy or girl.   I suppose I was trying to emulate The Mary Tyler Moore Show or The Bob Newhart Show.   But even Mary Richards and Bob Hartley were more eccentric than I realized.   I’d try to make up for how boring my main characters were by surrounding them ...

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Posted by Sheldon Bull at 11/28/2013 1:56 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Inside the Studio Gate

How do you get inside the studio gate? 

Answering that question has been one of the primary missions of this blog since I started it several years ago.   When I began posting essays, I was also outside the studio gate.   I had a twenty-five year career as a TV sitcom writer and producer, but that career seemed to be over when I wrote Elephant Bucks.   Now, due to circumstances beyond my control or my imagination, I am back inside the studio gate working on a prime time ...

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Posted by Sheldon Bull at 11/23/2013 2:38 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Lucky Me

Monday I begin a new job as Consulting Producer on the CBS comedy series, Mom, staring Anna Faris and Allison Janney.   I’ll be working for Executive Producers Chuck Lorre, Nick Bakay, and Eddie Gorodetsky.  

As readers of this blog know, I have been mostly retired for the past several years.   This job fell out of the sky.   Nick Bakay contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I’d be interested in joining the writing staff.   I worked ...

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Posted by Sheldon Bull at 11/2/2013 2:42 PM | View Comments (9) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Gravity gravitas

Fifteen minutes after the movie was over I was still shaking.   My wife and I sat down at our table at Kate Mantilini last night after the screening of Gravity at the WGA Theater, and my knees were weak.   When the waiter asked if we wanted a cocktail, the answer from both of us was an emphatic yes.   I haven’t been this swept up in a movie since Black Swan.   “I was never bored for ...

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Posted by Sheldon Bull at 10/14/2013 12:17 PM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
A Lot to Notice

At the end of 2012 I decided that I was going to take at least a year off from writing.   My wife and I were planning to sell our house in 2013.   I didn’t know how stressful that process would be, and I didn’t know where we would be living, so I figured I wouldn’t add the pressure of trying to write something.

I had also hit something of an impasse in my writing.   ...

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Posted by Sheldon Bull at 9/6/2013 2:35 PM | View Comments (11) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)