Sometime before Christmas we got an e-mail from Chad Gervich whose book, Small Screen, Big Picture - A Writer's Guide to the TV Business had just been published. Chad wanted to know if we'd be interested in reviewing his book. I wrote him back fairly honestly that I wasn't sure if it was anything I'd ever get around to, but if he sent me a copy of the book, someday I might pick it up and you never know.
So Chad had a copy of the book sent and it wound up in a pile of stuff I might get to someday. Sadly, like many people the pile of stuff I MIGHT get around to is much bigger than the pile of stuff I actually do get around to. But Chad, understanding the laws of physics and specifically the law of inertia, e-mailed me a week or so ago with a "No pressure, but I was wondering if you ever got around to..." message, that did serve as enough force that I eventually pulled the book from the pile and sat down with it.
I'll admit that initially my state of mind was that it was like a homework assignment. Something I felt I should do, but you know, really didn't actually feel like doing. But that changed from the very first page where I saw the advance praise for the book. Among the praise was this from Tom Kapinos, who is the creator/executive producer of Showtime's Californication:
The world of TV writing is much like the hell that is high school, only the nerds are nerdier, the jocks are jockier and all the mean girls want to eat your young. With the help of Chad's book and breezy writing, one will be able to navigate the treacherous waters and dimly lit corridors and emerge overpaid and well fed, just like the rest of us. - Tom Kapinos
Kapinos is definitely right about Chad's breezy writing style. I wound up reading the book from cover-to-cover in a single (albeit lengthy) sitting. While the book is intended as a guide for wannabe TV writers, and is that, I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to read a breezy primer about how the television industry works. It is a writer's guide for breaking into the business, but it's also a high level business primer.
It covers it all, from how shows get created and wind up on your television sets, to all the business aspects. Because we focus pretty much on ratings exclusively here, the primer on how the networks, studios and production companies work together was very helpful for me. After about 20 pages I was sort of mad at Chad in a "hey, where the #@(! was this book 18 months ago when we started the web site!" way. Broadcast, cable and syndication are covered. Show production is covered in quite a bit of detail, as is the development cycle.
If you want to break into television as a writer, this is definitely a book for you. But even if you don't want to be a TV writer and merely want to learn more about how the business works without having to learn the hard way, I highly recommend Chad's book. You'll even learn how to read the credits and what they mean, including the difference in meaning between "Written by Robert Seidman & Bill Gorman" and "Written by Robert Seidman and Bill Gorman".
The book is available via Amazon (link below) and other book retailers.