Four-and-a-half months after it was announced, Humanitas’ New Voices initiatives for emerging TV writers has received its first four script orders from participating studios/networks. Back in November, 20th Century Fox TV, NBC Universal, CBS, ABC Studios, Lionsgate and HBO each made blind commitments to buy two scripts written by up-and-coming writers under the supervision of a Humatitas’ Trustee or Board member. Since then, FX has joined the group, bringing the total number of blind script commitments to 14.
And now, 20th TV, its cable division Fox 21, CBS TV Studios and ABC Studios has each ordered one pilot script, with a fifth script deal pending. 20th TV has bought a pilot script for Mambo Palace, a single-camera comedy by Luisa Leschin, with Humanitas Trustee Ali LeRoi, creator of Everybody Hates Chris, supervising. CBS Studios has ordered Neil Cohen’s single-camera script Judge School, which is being supervised by Trustee Gary David Goldberg. Fox 21 has ordered a pilot script for the one-hour drama Majestic from Will Pascoe with Trustee and Bones creator Hart Hanson supervising. ABC Studios ordered a script for Christian Trokey’s one-hour drama Map, Myth, Bone, with Trustee Marc Guggenheim (No Ordinary Family) supervising.
Humanitas received some 450 submissions for the New Voices program through agents, Trustees, Board members and other showrunners. Leschin and Cohen’s projects were brought in by LeRoi and Hanson, respectively, who had worked with the two writers before, while Humanitas Executive Director Cathleen Young and her team pitched Cohen and Pascoe’s scripts to Goldberg and Guggenheim. Out of 7 scripts taken to the participating studios, 5 have sold. The program is open to writers who are looking to enter or re-enter the TV arena. Complete novices will be paid WGA scale plus 10% by the studios for their scripts, while those with some sort of experience will get a flat fee of $75,000. Young hopes to fulfill the 14 blind script commitments every year but if any are not met, they don’t expire and will be rolled over. Humanitas does not have a financial interest in setting the projects up. If any of the scripts goes to pilot or/and series, the organization will get a fee of $10,000 but has no piece of the shows’ potential backend as that would be asking for what the people it’s helping get, Young said. “We are not here to profit from writers,” she said. “Our mission as a non-profit is to honor the writers of today and empower writes to tell the stories of tomorrow. That is what we are doing with New Voices. And we do that by serving as a launching pad and a matchmaker — pairing talented up-and-comers with our brilliant Trustee showerunners.” Here are descriptions of the 4 picked up scripts and info about their writers:
Luisa Leschin’s single-camera comedy Mambo Palace is centered around a quirky neighborhood dance studio run by larger-than-life ballroom aces Ray and Lillian Del Mar and the couple’s young adult children. The show features dance numbers in a variety of styles including hip hop, Latin, ballroom and jazz. Former dancer Leschin’s previous writing credits include episodes of Everybody Hates Chris and George Lopez.
Neil Cohen’s single-camera comedy Judge School is set in a tiny upstate New York hamlet where newly elected Town Judge Carly Vanderwitt gets more than she bargained for as she tries to sort out the quarrelsome townfolks’ conflicting agendas and longstanding feuds while negotiating her own family issues. Cohen’s screenwriting credits include the feature film The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca and the upcoming You Look Nice Today.
Will Pascoe’s drama Majestic is set during the Golden Age of Hollywood and centers on estranged brothers and long-time rivals Benjamin and Sam Lawton, who are forced into an uneasy alliance after their father dies, leaving them in charge of the movie studio he founded. Pascoe’s recent TV writing credits include Degrassi: The Next Generation, Sci-Q, Breakout and Majority Rules.
Christian Trokey’s one-hour drama Map, Myth, Bone centers on a recent high-school grad who must uncover a long sought-after treasure in order to save his amateur archaeologist father’s life. Trokey’s previous credits include freelancing for CBS’ The Guardian, serving as story editor on Prison Break and executive producing the web series Den of Thieves for 60frames.