#RealDeal: Here’s what it’s like to have your life turned into a TV show (& then to have it actually sell) PT 2
I feel like the title says it best, but here’s how Jerry Bruckheimer bought my life rights, and how my life was turned into a put pilot for CBS. This is part 2, here is part 1.https://www.youtube.com/embed/UAsTlnjvetI?wmode=opaque
Needless to say, I had quite a bit of adjustment in August to Mid-September 2015. I had come back to LA in a “big way,” but I was still adjusting myself to the physicality to being here. To my surprise, I didn’t go back to “Talk Nerdy” friends, I didn’t need to talk about things in the same way that I had for all those years; I not only no longer wanted to be the center of attention, I wanted the exact opposite. I purposefully put myself in positions where I had more of a “supporting role” (I discovered it was more fulfilling).
Once I had developed (from my perspective) true confidence and less of a show of bravdo, I stopped needing to prove things to anyone else (or most importantly to myself). How did I get this far with this project? Because I don’t give up on anything I believe in, and even when I THINK I’ve given up on something, it was more likely than not a little “universal push” and a quick smack in the face of a “told ya so! You got what you wanted, just not how you expected, but aren’t you glad you listened???”
I think of those “universal pushes” like those corny “let go” memes people publish. It’s easy to publish a picture, harder to actually do it.
Alrite, alrite onto the post … January 2016 quickly rolled around, and as did the pilot announcements. While I was blissfully unaware of the commencement of pilot season, I was surely not going to make the same mistake twice. The only entertainment website I knew that had “up to the minute details” was Deadline, so I set an auto refresh chrome extension on my browser to refresh every 5 seconds in the hopes of seeing the EXACT moment any sort of announcement was made.
Here were some of the pilots Talk Nerdy went up against …
That’s us at the bottom sans the red font and update.
Oh but one website actually considered us one of the top pilots picks …
I did not pay them to write this.
As anyone could imagine pending theoretical life changing news, the waiting game turned me into a basket case with eyes as wide as saucers for just shy of 30 days. I obviously knew there was nothing I could do, but that didn’t mean that I mentally wasn’t trying to will the powers that be into submission.
Clearly this is not productive, I thought one day hopping on airbnb. Remember, Talk Nerdy was just one of my projects at that time. I still had my startup, and was still consulting (startups pay peanuts, and I wanted to “financially up” my $10 hustling game). Bottom line, I couldn’t afford to be a crazy pants.
I settled on an airstream in the middle of mountains in Malibu, and chose to stare at actual stars and not anything Hollywood had to offer.
See this post, and this is the actual airstream …
I realized in that moment that ignorance was truly bliss and man did I miss island life. The project actually selling couldn’t be further from my mind, again, I was just happy that I could leverage the line “Jerry Bruckheimer bought my life rights.” Being back in LA changed everything. My phone wouldn’t stop with texts, or social media messages from friends who knew Talk Nerdy was front and television center.
I joked with my agents saying that this is a form of sadomasochism. I asked how they do this multiple times a year, but then quickly realized that it must be different from their side of the table.
After a full month of waiting for a decision, on February 9th, I got another email:
Instead of responding, I called asking, “what’s a Les Moonves?” I didn’t even think to google it because I wasn’t even sure if it was a person or a french dessert.
I got directly through to my agent who was surprised at the question, but also very quickly answered, “he’s the chairman and President of CBS.”
“That makes sense,” I said brushing off my naive nelly nature. “So what are the next steps?”
It got down between Talk Nerdy and The Great Outdoors, and Les picked The Great Outdoors. That doesn’t mean you’re out for the rest of pilot season, another network could still come into play, she said.
Which made sense from my perspective because the other networks had also placed a bid.
I had also been told that if Talk NerdyDID make it to a pilot order, it was top pickings for having The Big Bang Theory leadin. From my perspective (and to continue a narrative), I thought it was super badass, I realized if it did end up in the slot behind Big Bang that EVERYTHING WOULD HAVE COME FULL CIRCLE!! This website STARTED with The Big Bang Theory!!
When I started Talk Nerdy back in 09, I set up our SEO to be found by the ORM of the show. I wanted to be aligned with the show digitally, but what I got was even more than I could have ever imagined.
<tangent> When I was physically packing the six little boxes that I had in the back of the Ford Fiesta (from when I was moving into it) …
… I got a call from my buddy Noa, who said I had a new fan of the blog.
Oh yeah, who I asked?
Do you know the show The Big Bang Theory?
Not needing to hear anything more, I began uncontrollably sobbing as he finished the fourth word. I quickly made it down to my knees (that’s what she said) inside the garage overhang sobbing sobbingsobbing.
And when I say “uncontrollably sobbing” I literally mean uncontrollablysobbing.
Kaley Cuoco – he said confused. She’s a fan of yours, can we get her and the whole cast a shirt or something?
I couldn’t speak, I continued to sob, and concurrently turned a former Italian gangster into an equally blubbery mess. He then began tearing up and said “I don’t even know why I’m crying?
Why are you crying?
WHY ARE WE CRYING??”
Barely able to speak I explained that in this exact moment I was putting bins inside the Ford Fiesta. I didn’t know I needed a sign, but the fact that you are calling me in this exact moment can’t be a coincidence. I need to keep going with what I’m doing, I just can’t see it all yet.
We cried it out for another minute or two as I thanked him for the call.
“I love you, Friel. You’re a good one,” he said.
I think I said I love you too, I’m assuming I did, I was just verklempt with all of the emotion. Give me a moment, talk amongst yourselves … https://www.youtube.com/embed/oiJkANps0Qw?start=147&wmode=opaque
Four months later, Noa proved to do more than just give the cast shirts … that I didn’t have because I couldn’t afford them … he called asking if I wanted an exclusive of Kaley and (then boyfriend) Chris French singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” benefiting the humane society. (I had originally shown Noa how to use Ustream, and also shown Kaley how to use social media, as she had up until 2010 been resistant.)
Here’s the feed & here’s also the original post from 2010(mind you the poor dear had just broken her foot in a horse back riding accident, but what an awesome human being for giving the exclusive and shout out) … https://www.ustream.tv/embed/recorded/9794508?v=3&wmode=opaque
Click the black box (it’s going to ask you to authorize flash)
Within less than a year of starting this website, I got to the CEO of AOL, the CEO of Ford, and the cast of The Big Bang Theory(who again, were directly my target). At this point, everything and nothing surprised me.
The first night sleeping in the Ford Fiesta wound up being (still to this day) the best night sleep I’ve ever had. I knew I was moving towards a direction that was “my future” and I was willing to temporarily risk physical hunger in exchange for the feeding of my soul. </tangent>
Alrite, so now you have the back story. So when I say it was a true disappointment not getting that spot, I really fucking meant it!!
HOW COULD THIS NOT HAVE HAPPENED!!!!! NERD SHOW! NERD PILOT NAME!!!!! COMMON SENSE!!!
Instead of getting (/waiting on) any more updates via my agent, I reached out to my network of friends (one of whom I met at the Wonder Woman orgy) asking for an independent evaluation of my situation.
Two days later I had a response …
I thanked her for the research and was then told by another friend that Les (we’re on a first name basis now that I know he’s not edible), is notorious for taking a long time to make a decision on pilots just so other networks can’t get whatever he passed on. Even though I had a put pilot (aka the holy grail of both talent attached and financial commitment), the project clearly wasn’t going to happen in its current form.
Being back in LA meant that I’d continue with my own networking, and I actually found on Tinder the guy who made the decision to let CBS take the bid for Talk Nerdy.
“You became too expensive,” he said over drinks upon the forming of a newfound friendship.
I also met on Hinge the guy that physically wrote my life rights agreement. I didn’t believe him at first, so he pulled up my contract on his computer …
I then told him about the back story of Talk Nerdy and he couldn’t believe it …
How could Bruckheimer have bought my life rights, I thought and people involved not know the back story? I found that strange but again …
… not that any of that mattered because from my perspective, it was like having a kid go to college. The fact that they wanted it was great, but it also made me question what they were pitching, and if I could do it differently.
I emailed my agents on February 12th and asked for the pilot that they presented. I knew previously that Morgan had sold the concept based upon her name, Bruckheimer’s, the name of the website, and a log line, but I didn’t know much else.
Upon receiving the draft, I posted this photo in social …
I knew that the show at that point wasn’t going to go forward for this pilot season, but that didn’t mean I was willing to give up on the faint shot of a potential hail Mary.
I can’t give up, I kept thinking. There has to be a miracle in here somewhere, this is all too close.
Oh yeah, no miracle. At least, maybe not that day, week, or month.
I put the pilot out of my mind as best as I could, and if anyone asked about it, I pulled the LA producer card of “it’s in development.”
In July, I had emailed my agents asking if they had any updates on the option being renewed. This would be the third renewal, and the third time has to be the charm, right? I mean, RIGHT???
After 15 years Bruckheimer and Warner Brothers decided to part ways …
So NOW you decide you’re just not that into each other I thought?? Ah, fuck. I didn’t even ask my agent what the partnership termination meant (while I was historically pretty clueless I could for the first time pretty clearly see the writing on the wall, er monitor).
Like any good nerd will tell you, the game is only over if you run out of lives. As long as I was still living and breathing, why wouldn’t I just try again? Albeit, I’m not a Bruckheimer, but I know a lot of really random people.
In July of 2016, I got my life rights, trademarks, and intellectual property back. Jerry Bruckheimer basically just put a stamp of approval on this website, my name (technically career), and I was blessed with a whollleeee lotta press and intellectual property that was still considered hot (as long as nerds were still a “thing”).
Time to tag in new players, I thought, only this time I have the home court advantage.
Noa also has a podcast, btw. Not only is it good content, but listen even if you just want to fall asleep. He’s got a voice like Morgan Freeman.