I’ve been plugging along in Social Media, Social TV, and Entertainment for a few years now. I’ve been picky about what projects I get involved in and what I lend my name to because I want to make as much of a positive impact as I can. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had a few bad experiences or worked/associated with some people I shouldn’t have, but even that has made me wiser and I hope stronger. Without the not-so-great experiences, I may not have been led to the really positive, amazing ones I have had and am having recently.
Today, I’m musing about a very positive experience and one I have been getting asked about a bit lately. I thought it would be nice to address it in a post so more people could find out about it. Recently, I decided to lend a hand in a TV series I absolutely love and have been watching since season one premiered online. Eastsiders is a little show that could and a show that has had a huge impact on so many people, including me. As far as the industry is concerned, it is a show that went from a web series, to television (appearing on LOGO), and then to NETFLIX as well. It has won a Daytime Emmy and has been nominated for multiple awards for everything from writing to acting.
It’s no wonder it has garnered so much award attention. The multi-talented Kit Williamsonis the writer, creator, and director and he also stars. Van Hansis stars alongside Kit as his longtime boyfriend. John Halbach (Kit’s husband and Eastsiders Producer), Matthew McKelligon, Constance Wu, Brea Grant, and Stephen Guarino also star but just like other favorite shows of mine, they all play an important role in the story. There are so many guest stars that come in, like my friends Jai Rodriguez and Tuc Watkins, Willam Belli, and Traci Lords. Is it any wonder I fell in love with this show?
It begins as a story about the impact of infidelity on a gay couple in Silverlake (another reason I fell in love with the show. It takes place in the places I LOVE) but it becomes so much more than that. At its core, it is about relationships of all kinds and you begin to see that there really aren’t many differences in straight, gay, bi, etc when it comes to relationships and life’s trials. We are all basically perfectly imperfect and that’s okay even if it doesn’t feel okay all the time. I truly believe the show and Kit’s writing are the voice of a community and a generation. It’s a voice I’ve needed to hear, one I think we all need to hear, and it’s my voice too. It’s a voice that is amplified by the passion of the actors and all involved in every episode. It’s one that makes you proud to spell your name LGBT for sure!
One of the wonderful things about Eastsiders is the fact that it has been largely supported by crowd funding and fan support. When I saw the season three Kickstarter campaign, I donated as soon as I could. Then I rewatched season one and two on Netflix and realized I wanted to do more. I needed to be a part of this amazing experience that I’ve been watching from afar. I noticed there was an associate producer spot open and the rest is history.
To make the experience even more interesting and meaningful, a few episodes of season three premiered at OutFest in Los Angeles this past July and I got to attend. I actually got a chance to sit down with, talk to, and celebrate with the cast. Everyone was exactly as I expected them to be and even more! I think I fell in love with each of them and the show all over again.
I am actually hoping to do something with them again in the near future and maybe even sitting down with Kit and John for an interview at some point. When Kit asked me what I’ve been up to, I recall saying to him and John, “Life just keeps getting more fun” and I truly hope that continues to be true. I’d also love to continue doing meaningful things that have a positive impact. In the meantime, I am looking forward to Eastsiders season three becoming available to the masses so I can share it with all of you and I look forward to continuing my journey with all of you as well. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have the support of the people I do via social, in person, and in my travels. I hope you will all extend that support to my new Eastsiders family as well.
You’re invited to join me in a Twitter party Tomorrow night (Wednesday, March 29th) I’ll be at one of my favorite places, TV Land HQ for the series premiere of Nobodies and the return of Lopez! We all know Lopez stars THE George Lopez and he certainly brings the funny every week. Now, it is paired with a brand new comedy from Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone. From the teasers and the first episode (you can actually cheat and catch it on the TV Land app and online) I can tell you, there are going to be PLENTY of laughs.
Be sure to follow @TVLand @NobodiesTV @LopezOnTVLand and me @teeco71 plus use the hashtags #NobodiesTV and #LopezOnTVLand and tweet along with us starting at 10pm ET and then you can join us all season long as the laughs continue!
The sitcom is dead, long live the sitcom. Since reality TV was introduced to the masses, we’ve been hearing that scripted series, especially sitcoms, are in trouble. We debate their future, we lament over the classic ones we loved, and some of us long for the days sitcoms ruled. I have some good news for you, the sitcom isn’t actually dead, it’s just not your father’s sitcom anymore. Just look at the work TV Land is doing and you can see that. With shows like Teachers and Younger, we are seeing a change in the genre but I don’t think we need to get the resuscitation equipment ready just yet.
I have been a huge fan of television my entire life, particularly a good sitcom. I suspect that many of you are like me and enjoy escaping for a half hour of entertainment and laughter. When I heard about Mission: Dadpossible I was intrigued by the premise and hopeful for a new project that would bring a little more scripted laughter into our lives. Since reading up on it I am sure this project will be one to watch.
I have to admit, I am a bit biased because one of my colleagues and friends, Adryenn Ashley has shown her support for Dadpossible through her crowd funding platform, Crowded TV and that is another reason I am confident this project will be something we will want to get behind. With the changing landscape of television, we are going to see many artists headed to alternative sources in order to be sure their projects are seen by the masses. After you read this delightful interview with Associate Producer/Actor Jayme Wojciechowski and Creator/writer/actor Stennar Strom, be sure to head over to Crowded TV to find out more and check out other upcoming projects!
Jayme Wojciechowski (Associate Producer / Actor): Mission: Dadpossible is a broadcast quality sitcom about Sherwin, a single, “40 year old virgin,” raising his two spirited and precocious young daughters. They decide to create an online dating profile for their dad and send him out on dates. Hilarity ensues as calamity and chaos interfere with every romantic potential.
Stennar Strom (Creator/Writer/Actor): Sherwin is a hero at home, but a lovable loser everywhere else in the world. My favorite roles are dads who have as much fun as the kids, and adults who are completely awkward in social situations. The concept for the show began when I wanted to combine those two halves into one character. I created the sitcom from there.
One important aspect for me was that the women on the dates were not the punch line of the joke. That is the standard sitcom situation. Oh, the date is crazy! On Mission: Dadpossible, Sherwin is the one who messes up. I wanted to be sure that the women had a smart, well-rounded voice behind them. That is why I brought Dakota Shepard on-board as co-writer. I want the women on the show to say things that a woman would say. Not just what a male writer thinks a woman would say.
Another important part of the show is that he’s the father in a mixed race family. But that’s not the joke, or what the show revolves around. There are several successful primetime shows where the main focus is the family culture. They do that well. But on our show, it’s just who they are as a family. It just is. My kids in real life are multi-cultural, but for us it’s just our normal. When I was writing, it was always in the back of my mind that was Sherwin’s family too. There’s very little representation of those families and those kids on TV; so I just thought that would be a nice extra. I didn’t realize at the time how many people would respond so positively to that aspect of the show.
Q: Do you think there is still hope for the traditional three camera sitcom? I’ve noticed a trend of moving toward the single camera, no laugh track, no studio audience style lately.
Jayme: There is a ton of hope. I actually think we will see the reemergence of the three camera sitcom in the next few years. Like anything in Hollywood, trends tend to come in waves. Shows like The Office and Modern Family created this wave of single camera comedy and How I Met Your Mother introduced this hybrid of using three camera without a laugh track. The traditional sitcom dominated comedy television in the 90’s and early 2000’s to a point where audiences wanted another option. Then they were replaced with a more grounded style of single camera that is currently dominating. I feel that same push for something different now and believe a wave of groundbreaking traditional sitcoms are on the horizon.
Q: What are some of the plus sides of producing independent television? Are there any down sides?
Jayme: The main plus side is being able to maintain control of what you are creating. Once a creative sells their idea to a network, they often lose much of the creative control. We have some big ideas for the show that go beyond just the story and script, and we chose to produce the project ourselves to ensure we do not have to sacrifice those ideas.
Stennar: In addition, the way television is traditionally produced it can take two to three years to go through the development process for a show. We are able to go from funding to filming in a few months.
Jayme: I wouldn’t say there are any down sides but there are unique challenges to self-producing. There is just more steps for us personally. You need to not only write a script, but fund it and promote it and organize it yourself. You are not simply writing a script and selling it to a company to produce it. You are doing it all yourself. So, I guess the down side is that it is much more work. But that could also be seen as an upside. Depends how you look at it. Just like everything else.
Q: It is important to portray real families on television with all of the different types of families we experience in real life. Do you think we will see more multi-racial, single parents, and same sex parent families?
Jayme: When it comes down to it, I think people simply want to be able to relate to what they watch on television. And as creatives, we want to bring our own experiences and lives and viewpoint into the projects we create. Our team decided very early on that we wanted diversity to be a huge part of Mission: Dadpossible. From a creative standpoint, I have experienced that the more diversity there is in the creative process, the more interesting and human the project becomes. Being able to find that shared humanity when you have a plethora of ideas and experiences allows there to be more heart, and that is really what an audience yearns for. What makes our project super unique is our dedication to diversity in both our casting and our crew.
Hollywood tends to progress quite slowly but as America continues to diversify so will Hollywood. The demand is overwhelming and the networks just need to catch up. Just one more reason we are self-producing. Diversity is too important for us to risk a network being in charge.
Stennar: I think we will see more over time. I certainly hope so. My little daughter loves the movie “Home,” because the story is great and the main character looks like her. So representation does matter.
Q: What are some of the draws and perks for using crowd funding to finance projects?
Jayme: Crowd funding makes self-producing much simpler than it ever was. It really allows fans a way to feel like they are a part of the process. It also allows you to fund and promote at the same exact time.
The drawback of crowd funding is that is it easy to get lost in the shuffle. Crowd funding has become very popular and everyone from established Oscar winning filmmakers to your friend’s grandma are trying to use crowd funding to make their next film. You really need a solid project and plan in order to have a successful campaign.
Q: How do you balance creating funny, family-friendly content that appeals to adults and is suitable for children?
Jayme: Mission: Dadpossible is definitely made for adults. The idea was to create a sitcom for those parents who only ever watch the same 5 episodes of Elmo’s World with their kids on a daily basis. The humor of our show really just mimics actual family humor. If you have an adult conversation with any parents while their kids are in the room, the content of the conversation rarely changes. What changes, is that all of a sudden the adults start using all these code words and code behaviors that make the adult conversation a million times more amusing.
Stennar: It’s definitely rated PG. But, little kids won’t have any inappropriate words to mimic. When you’re watching TV with a three year old in the room, and you pay attention to the show, it’s amazing how many prime-time sitcoms past and present use words that you don’t want your kids repeating. At the same time, lots of the humor will go over the heads of older kids. I definitely think that high school kids, college kids, and single adults will enjoy the edge though; especially the disastrous dates. If you’ve ever had a bad date, then in all likelihood Sherwin’s are worse. There’s comfort and comedy in that.
Q: The crowd funding platform you are using, Crowded TV, is unique in that it allows people to back you via social currency as well as with traditional currency (money). What are some advantages of going this route, especially for indie artists and projects?
Jayme: Mission: Dadpossible is bypassing the traditional network process and instead we are asking our fans for support through Crowded TV. Crowded TV is the next level of crowd funding for independent television. What makes it perfect for indie television projects is that it allows fans to show their support in ways beyond just teaming up as financial donors. Fans can also support projects for FREE by helping build a shows “social currency.” Social Currency is the gathering of Mission: Dadpossible’s entire fan base’s demographic data. That data is matched to the ideal advertisers / sponsors and then transformed into production dollars and distribution.
There is a definite stigma that comes with crowd funding that Crowded TV is trying to eliminate. Crowd funding independent entertainment should not be about begging our family and friends to donate money to our projects. No creative wants to have to do that and now we don’t have to. With Crowded TV, the focus is on creating a fan base and having organized data about that fan base. This way we can appeal to appropriate advertisers and investors that are willing to back the project with larger donations.
Q: Where can people find out more about Mission: Dadpossible and how to help with the crowd funding?
Jayme: We happily welcome anyone who would like to join our team as a financial donor, but if you would prefer to back us for FREE that is just as helpful. All you need to do is visit www.missiondadpossible.com and click on the “Back with Facebook” and/or the “Back with Twitter” button. Then just follow the prompt. It is super easy and takes less than 10 seconds to complete.
Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
Stennar: Laughter. Life is hard. Sometimes you just need to laugh.
Even though haters gonna hate, it would be a much better world if people just didn’t.
Jayme: Ditto to both of those!
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? From Who?
Stennar: My father always told me to create things for yourself. If it’s something that strikes a chord, people will join in and help. Mission: Dadpossible is a testament to that.
Jayme: A Zen Master once told me an incredible little saying. Student says “I am very discouraged. What should I do?” Master says, “encourage others.”
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever given? Are you good at following your own advice?
Stennar: You don’t have to accomplish everything in one day. One brick a day can build a house. Just keep putting down that one brick. As a stay at home dad with two small children, it’s the only way that I have built my achievements.
Jayme: I stole this saying from Bjork but I regurgitate it often. Lust for comfort suffocates the soul. I have a rule where I must challenge myself intellectually, physically and emotionally at least once a day. Reading science journals, sword fighting, cross-fit, meditation and watching emotional YouTube videos tends to cover all the bases.
Tommy: Remember to head over to Crowded TV to show your support. There are many ways to do so, including lending your social currency to the project and sharing the page with others!
Today, most TV shows are lucky to last one season so six definitely says something about the quality of the show and the talent involved. It also speaks volumes about the network that carries the show. It shows that the powers that be believe in you, respect you, and appreciate you.
Such is the case with a little show (that really isn’t so little when you look at it) called Hot In Cleveland. When Hot premiered, TV Land was known as the best place to go to see your favorite classic TV shows. It seemed appropriate that they be the ones to corner the market on television series which combined actors from those beloved classic TV shows and put them in the situations they were most familiar with, celebrated for, and damn good at!
This was also a risky venture because network and cable TV was becoming seemingly impossibly competitive. Thank goodness, the powers that be, including Larry W. Jones believed in the vision and took a chance on the show and the talents of Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick, and Jane Leeves.
Hot In Cleveland premiered to phenomenal ratings and kept that momentum going strong. It created a place for other shows with similar formats and formulas to be born like The Exes, Happily Divorced, The Soul Man, Kirstie and now Younger, Impastor, and The Jim Gaffigan Show.
Hot also created an environment where Social TV could flourish and opened up an opportunity for me to develop a relationship with the show, digital producers, and even Mr. TV Land Larry himself! Now, how lucky was I? Over the years I have been to numerous live tapings, many gatherings at TV Land HQ, and even red carpet events. It also opened up friendships and events outside the TV Land
Getting comfy in the Hot In Cleveland Living Room
I have been literally given VIP treatment and been able to bring some of my friends along from time to time. The memories go beyond the television screen for me and I am so thrilled to see where this will go next!
It is also bittersweet because I know all shows must end their run, I know actors move on to other projects but part of me wants them to stay. As Dr Suess says, “Don’t cry because it’s over, be happy that it happened”. I am very HAPPY Hot In Cleveland happened.
This Wednesday, June 3rd, I will again be tweeting from TV Land HQ in NYC along with the amazing TV Land family and I hope you all join along! In addition to the one hour series finale of Hot, we will be treated to a special sneak peek of the Jim Gaffigan Show. Wednesday nights have become somewhat of a twitter party for me during the airings of the TV Land sitcoms where we all get to tweet our favorite lines and fan reactions to the situations our favorite characters get into. That has expanded to Tuesdays now with Younger and I truly hope it will continue with all of TV Land’s shows!
Please join us on Wednesday for all the fun. Follow me @teeco71, @TVLand, @hotncleveland, & @gaffiganshow as we send off our beloved Hot in Cleveland and be sure to tweet along using hashtags #HotInCleveland #ThanksForTheLaughs #TVLand and #GaffiganShow.
With some of the TV Land family Live Tweeting during Hot In Cleveland and The Soul Man
I would like to take this opportunity to send Betty, Valerie, Jane, and Wendie all of my gratitude and LOVE. Thank you for all the laughs and thank you for being there for us each Wednesday! And special Thanks to Larry W. Jones, Sean Hayes, Tod Milliner and the entire crew for all they’ve done to bring us our favorite TV shows!
To the TV Land digital crew that have truly become family to me, I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday and to all that the future holds in store! Thank you for including me and for all you do!
Will Danny dance again? How do the writers strike the delicate balance between raunchy, no fear comedy and tenderness and heart? Mindy Kaling reveals that and more in her chat with The Times’ Yvonne Villarreal. More: http://lat.ms/1nx8YAi