The Austin Chronicle

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TV Eye: Insiders Trading TV Tips

TV insiders Noah Hawley and Kyle Killen trade tips

By Belinda Acosta, January 21, 2011, Screens

It used to be that the TV business was hermetically sealed. Breaking in was (and still is) tough, but getting the skinny on how the industry worked, from an insider perspective, was even tougher. So what kind of good fortune is it that Austin has two veterans, fresh from the trenches, available to share their stories, tips, and advice on being a working TV writer? This rare event is otherwise known as Conversations in Film: Breaking Into & Writing for Television. Another in the occasional series of year-round seminars hosted by the Austin Film Festival, the Conversations in Film series provides an opportunity for the public to meet and learn from local and visiting filmmakers outside of the film festival environment. The next Conversations in Film seminar features writer/producers Noah Hawley (My Generation) and Kyle Killen (Lone Star) discussing "writing and developing viable TV pilots and spec scripts that will get the attention of producers and executives, how to craft and deliver an effective pitch, pilot pick-ups, how to get on staff, and how to be a working writer outside of LA/NY," according to event press materials.

My Generation was an Austin-based dramatic series that premiered this fall and was pulled after a handful of episodes; it followed a group of high school students on their last day at Greenbelt High and caught up with them 10 years later to discover if they had realized their life goals (the results were mixed). Prior to My Generation, Hawley wrote for Bones and later executive produced the pilot for another short-lived series, The Unusuals (ABC). His screenplays include Lies & Alibis and Home Free.

Killen is the creator/writer/executive producer of the critically acclaimed but (some would say) prematurely canceled Lone Star (Fox). The series featured James Wolk as a brilliant grifter leading a double life in Texas, bilking small-scale investors from one end of the state to the other and laying the groundwork for a bigger scam involving a high-powered oil family that he's already married into. Killen is also the screenwriter behind the long-awaited film The Beaver, directed by Jodie Foster and starring Foster and Mel Gibson, which will have its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March.

Conversations in Film: Breaking Into & Writing for Television takes place Sunday, Jan. 23, at 2pm at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. Admission is $10 for the general public and $8 for Austin Film Festival members. For tickets and more information call 478-4795 or go to www.austinfilmfestival.com.

Many Happy Returns

Friday, Jan. 21: Kitchen Nightmares, 7pm on Fox. Chef Gordon Ramsay offers tough love to struggling restaurateurs. Fringe, 8pm (Fox). The Fringe team continues to explore logic-defying phenomena in this underappreciated J.J. Abrams series, now moved to Fridays. Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, 9pm on Starz. This prequel to season one, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, sees many changes, including a cast change of the lead character originally played by Andy Whitfield. Health issues forced Whitfield to leave the show, but he's reported to have given his blessing to his replacement, Liam McIntyre, (The Pacific).

Saturday, Jan. 22: An Idiot Abroad, 9pm on the Science Channel. Following the same tone as HBO's The Ricky Gervais Show, this reality series places Gervais' friend and toady Karl Pilkington on the road, where he visits the wonders of the world with the curiosity of a hermit, while Gervais and series co-creator Stephen Merchant watch and mock from the comfort of home.

Sunday, Jan. 23: Hawaii Five-0 on CBS. This remake of the popular '70s-era series resumes after the AFC Championship game.

Monday, Jan. 24: 90210, 7pm, and Gossip Girl, 8pm, both on the CW.

Tuesday, Jan. 25: One Tree Hill, 7pm, and Hellcats, 8pm, both on the CW.

Thursday, Jan. 27: The Vampire Diaries, 7pm, and Nikita, 8pm, both on the CW; Archer at 9pm on FX.

Friday, Jan. 28: Smallville, 7pm, and Supernatural, 8pm, both on the CW.

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