CBS recently debuted a sitcom based on a Twitter feed. As the entertainment industry tends to copy ideas, at least three other networks have purchased the rights to “Internet properties” for development into series. Some establishment Hollywood writers are no doubt apoplectic about this trend of “amateur” bloggers and Tweeters honing in on their turf, but at least one member of the old guard, longtime television comedy writer Ken Levine, thinks otherwise:
I applaud the trend, and here’s why: What these blogs and Twitter feeds that have sold have in common is that they all have strong voices and personal visions. This to me is what television comedy needs. All too often sitcoms get so watered down by committee and research. And that has led to the generic, bland, familiar sitcom that has threatened to kill the genre.
To those bloggers who have landed a sale — first off, congratulations. But your big challenge now is to hold onto that voice. And it will be a big challenge. A similar trend occurred almost thirty years ago when (sparked by the success of COSBY) networks clamored to sign stand-ups to star in sitcoms based on their acts. But they were performers with proven material at a time when there was far less interference from networks and studios.
Most bloggers aren’t experienced television writers. In all likelihood you’ll be paired with established showrunners (so those writers who don’t sell a pitch may still hook on with a project). The blogger might have to really fight to maintain his voice and vision. I encourage you to protect that at all costs.