Hollywood Coaching • Career Coach Los Angeles, Life Coach, Executive Business Coach

The New Hollywood Leader

Life Coaching in the New York Times - Again

by David Brownstein

Big article in the New York Times about LIfe Coaching. This one asking the musical question of whther you should have a life before becoming a life coach. Or more specifically it was talking about the many "young" life coaches in their 20's and whether someone so "young" had enough life experience to "coach" someone "older."

Here's what I posted as a comment on that article. 

"I'm a life coach, so obviously i believe in the value of the process. What seems worth pointing out here is that coaching is actually more about listening to our clients talk then telling them what to do.

Actually, listening well is a skill and something most of us don't get from friends, families and coworkers. When a coach is listening well, the client begins to notice themselves what matters to them and things become clearer to them. Then the simplest question will help the client take actions of their own design."

So congrats to all you new coaches out there whether "young" or "old."

"ARE YOU FEELIN' LUCKY?" - Dustin Hoffman wants to know

by David Brownstein

"ARE YOU FEELIN' LUCKY?"

This is the question Dustin Hoffman’s character, “Ace" Bernstein, asks his grandson at the end of the season and series finale of “Luck.”

The excellent and recently cancelled show from David Milch, Michael Mann and HBO, that is.

LUCKY IN LOVE? 

First, and obviously, I loved this show. I found the writing and acting so good and deep and rich I started to thank the gods of television for sending something so enjoyable and for the gift of seeing Dustin Hoffman’s amazing character and such a nuanced, emotionally accessible character.

That is, an emotionally accessible actor, playing a emotionally un-accessible character who is just recently released from jail and knows that jail changed him, and that he’s getting older and that he has to do things differently, but he’s a creature of habit, but he’s got these new awareness’ and . . . anyhow. A great character fleshed out by one of our greatest actors.

THINGS CHANGE

And, like life at the racetrack, things change and are out of our control.

As “Ace” says to his grandson (whose misbehaviors let to “Ace” spending 3 years in jail to protect him) “Sometimes you get dealt a hand you don’t like. The question is how you’re going to play it.”

In a turn not unlike the world portrayed on the show, Luck’s cancellation occurred when a horse died during production of the recently begun second season. Also apparently two horses had died during production of the first season.

AND CHANGE AGAIN

Also, adding to the strange irony for me was that a new assistant I had just hired got a job working on the set of “Luck” suddenly and left my employ.

My great new assistant leaving to work on my favorite show, which then got cancelled two weeks later? Weird.

Such are the twists, turns, trials and tribulations of life and work in Hollywood in 2012.

BUT HERE'S THE THING

TV is very much ALIVE these days and this is where the work is and possibly the best storytelling around today.  

You may have begun your career thinking you wanted to be in the movie business. Great. Keep doing it.

But if you want to be working these days it’s wise to broaden your scope to include the wacky, fickle and prosperous world of TV.

THE TALENT THING

The Top Talent is working in TV, some of the best stories, the best writers, actors, directors, crew etc.

Reality TV isn’t going away, but scripted is alive. Every month we hear of new cable channels doing scripted TV. The major networks are still at it, and soon we’ll be seeing what Netflix, Google, YouTube and Apple have to say about original programming.

Let alone the independent entrepreneurs who decide to just do their own thing. (Did you hear about Louis CK’s independent comedy downloadable concert for $4.99?)

BUSINESS OR HOBBY?

I heard Mitchell Block, the documentary film-maker turned distributor sum it up this way on a panel last year. “Right now features are a hobby. Television is a business.”

And so for me.

I’m turning my professional attention to the TV world. When the writers strike happened a few years ago, followed by the fear of an actor’s strike, combined with tanking of the economy, there was all this strange talk of the death of Television.

SMALL SCREEN?

But as Network President I heard on an HRTS panel said a year or so ago, “We’ve realized that our job is to create hits. We don’t care about the size of your screen.”

So while I’m continuing to work with clients in all areas of the entertainment industry ecosystem I’m turning my focus to TV.

It’s where the work and money is for my friends and clients, and it’s one of the only parts of Hollywood where there’s a motivation to keep a team together.

KEEP IT TOGETHER?

Consider this: The goal of a TV show, once it goes beyond a pilot, is to get to 100 episodes so that it can be syndicated. That takes about 5 years. Thus, the company needs to keep its team together.

While yes, on one hand, anyone is replaceable, from showrunner to major star, all parties seem to agree that it would be nice to keep the major creative players playing well with each other.

So my goals and mission for Hollywood Coaching are these:

  • --Help writers develop their career and leadership skills so that they can be more powerful in the writers room and in their communications with their team of executives, their actors and their crew.
  • --Help executives succeed by helping them manage their shows, their creative teams and their bosses.
  • --Help producers succeed by helping them reduce conflict wherever they may arise in the production/development food chain and to learn the skills for managing, reducing and facilitating conflicts and delays due to creative differences.

 

"ARE YOU FEELIN' LUCKY?" - Dustin Hoffman wants to know

by David Brownstein

"ARE YOU FEELIN' LUCKY?"

This is the question Dustin Hoffman’s character, “Ace" Bernstein, asks his grandson at the end of the season and series finale of “Luck.”

The excellent and recently cancelled show from David Milch, Michael Mann and HBO, that is.

LUCKY IN LOVE? 

First, and obviously, I loved this show. I found the writing and acting so good and deep and rich I started to thank the gods of television for sending something so enjoyable and for the gift of seeing Dustin Hoffman’s amazing character and such a nuanced, emotionally accessible character.

That is, an emotionally accessible actor, playing a emotionally un-accessible character who is just recently released from jail and knows that jail changed him, and that he’s getting older and that he has to do things differently, but he’s a creature of habit, but he’s got these new awareness’ and . . . anyhow. A great character fleshed out by one of our greatest actors.

THINGS CHANGE

And, like life at the racetrack, things change and are out of our control.

As “Ace” says to his grandson (whose misbehaviors let to “Ace” spending 3 years in jail to protect him) “Sometimes you get dealt a hand you don’t like. The question is how you’re going to play it.”

In a turn not unlike the world portrayed on the show, Luck’s cancellation occurred when a horse died during production of the recently begun second season. Also apparently two horses had died during production of the first season.

AND CHANGE AGAIN

Also, adding to the strange irony for me was that a new assistant I had just hired got a job working on the set of “Luck” suddenly and left my employ.

My great new assistant leaving to work on my favorite show, which then got cancelled two weeks later? Weird.

Such are the twists, turns, trials and tribulations of life and work in Hollywood in 2012.

BUT HERE'S THE THING

TV is very much ALIVE these days and this is where the work is and possibly the best storytelling around today.  

You may have begun your career thinking you wanted to be in the movie business. Great. Keep doing it.

But if you want to be working these days it’s wise to broaden your scope to include the wacky, fickle and prosperous world of TV.

THE TALENT THING

The Top Talent is working in TV, some of the best stories, the best writers, actors, directors, crew etc.

Reality TV isn’t going away, but scripted is alive. Every month we hear of new cable channels doing scripted TV. The major networks are still at it, and soon we’ll be seeing what Netflix, Google, YouTube and Apple have to say about original programming.

Let alone the independent entrepreneurs who decide to just do their own thing. (Did you hear about Louis CK’s independent comedy downloadable concert for $4.99?)

BUSINESS OR HOBBY?

I heard Mitchell Block, the documentary film-maker turned distributor sum it up this way on a panel last year. “Right now features are a hobby. Television is a business.”

And so for me.

I’m turning my professional attention to the TV world. When the writers strike happened a few years ago, followed by the fear of an actor’s strike, combined with tanking of the economy, there was all this strange talk of the death of Television.

SMALL SCREEN?

But as Network President I heard on an HRTS panel said a year or so ago, “We’ve realized that our job is to create hits. We don’t care about the size of your screen.”

So while I’m continuing to work with clients in all areas of the entertainment industry ecosystem I’m turning my focus to TV.

It’s where the work and money is for my friends and clients, and it’s one of the only parts of Hollywood where there’s a motivation to keep a team together.

KEEP IT TOGETHER?

Consider this: The goal of a TV show, once it goes beyond a pilot, is to get to 100 episodes so that it can be syndicated. That takes about 5 years. Thus, the company needs to keep its team together.

While yes, on one hand, anyone is replaceable, from showrunner to major star, all parties seem to agree that it would be nice to keep the major creative players playing well with each other.

So my goals and mission for Hollywood Coaching are these:

  • --Help writers develop their career and leadership skills so that they can be more powerful in the writers room and in their communications with their team of executives, their actors and their crew.
  • --Help executives succeed by helping them manage their shows, their creative teams and their bosses.
  • --Help producers succeed by helping them reduce conflict wherever they may arise in the production/development food chain and to learn the skills for managing, reducing and facilitating conflicts and delays due to creative differences.

 

CREATIVE CROSS TO BEAR?

by David Brownstein

A few weeks ago I heard Gregg Allman interviewed by the co-author of his new autobiography My Cross To Bear.  I was a fan of the Allman Brothers Band when I was in high school, inspired and amazed by the dual lead guitars of Duane Allman and Dicky Betts, the melodic and driving bass of Berry Oakley and the gravely voice of Gregg.

I wasn’t paying much attention to lyrics at that time, being more of a guitar/bass/groove/riff guy. It barely registered to me that they were really sort of a blues band. I knew they played blues songs but their music was so different than what I thought the blues was that it did not register. Or matter.

Keep Reading…

How To Tame Your TV Executives: Leadership Notes for Dan Harmon (Creator of Community)

by David Brownstein

ONE THING I WOULD HAVE TOLD DAN HARMON, IF ONLY HE’D ASKED. (OR IF I’D EVER MET HIM)

CONFESSION: I’ve never seen a complete episode of Dan Harmon’s show “Community” but so many friends, colleagues and clients have raved about it I’m pretty sure I’d have liked it if I’d given it a chance. I’m told one really must watch it from the beginning and whenever I stumbled on it in progress it didn’t immediately draw me in.

But maybe that helps me get the necessary perspective on Dan being fired from his own show.

I watch the TV industry from many perspectives - as a fan and consumer of great television, as an observer of the dynamic forces that shape the entertainment industry, and as an executive coach and leadership coach in Hollywood.

VERY FUNNY

Leadership in Hollywood is often thought of as somewhat of a joke: as if such a ridiculous thing could ever exist. Or it is simply synonymous with the big bad network president or studio head.

But what interests me is the question of how we can help creative leaders in Hollywood be better at the Leadership aspects of their job. Not just being a great writer, but a great leader as well.

Many TV showrunners may never have run a writer’s room before being anointed as creator or showrunner of their show. They can be supremely unprepared for the deluge ahead of them and alas, many do not survive in their post, while their show somehow does.

Much has been written already about Dan’s firing: by the press, online, and even by Dan himself.  But here’s what I would have suggested Dan work on if he’d asked me (or if I’d ever met him.)

LEARN HOW TO MANAGE YOUR EXECUTIVES

But not just to be nice.

The goal, in this case, would be to have worked collaboratively with them in some fashion, so that you can remain employed on the show that you toiled so long many hours to get right.

That doesn’t mean doing whatever they wanted whenever they wanted.

It does suggest, or perhaps require, a degree of professionalism and respect that may not interest you. And that’s fine, in theory. 

BUT FIRST: ARE YOU DIFFICULT?

Yet some have stated, that if Community got better ratings people would have been more willing to tolerate all sorts of “difficult behavior.”

I’m guessing that in your mind it would be articulated as something like “make the best possible show, that matches my vision, inspiration and whim as accurately as possible, regardless of the cost financially, professionally or socially.”

And I’m not saying that sort of blind dedication is bad. From what I gather you did create a show of unique vision and voice that has your fans completely devoted to your product, and possibly willing to excuse your “process.”

So regardless of what might have actually gone on behind the scenes in voicemails, emails and shouting matches on the set, in the dressing rooms or meeting rooms, let me make share a simple recipe that could potentially transform the process.

FIVE YEARS AGO

Several years ago, I was coaching Jeff Davis who created a little show called “Criminal Minds.” (Fyi: Jeff has given me permission to discuss our work together.)

Long story short, Jeff was removed from his own show, a few episodes into the first season and it was this incident that prompted the studio to suggest that Jeff work with me.

FIVE YEARS LATER

Jeff and I met for coffee during his process of working with a team of writers for the first season of Teen Wolf on MTV.

As we discussed how it’d been going he shared with me the mindset that he takes before a meeting with his network executives (at MTV.)

Before he gets on the phone with them to discuss notes Jeff reminds himself:

  • This is their time to be heard.
  • They need to be heard.
  • They want to make a good show just as much as I do.

Elegant. Simple. Collaborative.

Entering into a conversation with network executives with this (unspoken) perspective shifts the focus of the writer to being able to hear the notes, acknowledge the human beings behind the notes, and honoring the process of collaboration that is central to the expensive and powerful medium of making mass media scripted television.

His focus is on them and their best and highest intentions. Not defensive or derisive.

He doesn’t give up control, but he does enroll the execs in the process.

NEW TOOLS

This is just one tool of many that a new, or experienced showrunner or creative team leader can employ to change the interpersonal dynamic of their executive team.

And it’s not a one-way street either. My next post on the subject will be about the executives and what they can do to create a collaborative relationship with their writers and creative teams.

PS: Jeff’s Second Season of Teen Wolf is enjoying a successfull run on MTV. He must be doing something right.