I love that after 7,500 blog posts it’s this series of posts that allowed me to understand that I do not process fear in the same way most people do.
Mind you of those 7,500 blog posts I crashed the Grammys,danced on stage with Prince, went out on over 103 dates in 9 months, and bartered social media to live for a year getting to 12 states with $10 to my name.
I wasn’t at all afraid to pick up the phone and call Bruckheimer. After five years, I was ready to be heard and I was/ am INSANELY PROUD of what we have developed. It was business not personal (which is hilarious since it involves my actual life story) … and RIGHT NOW is already a win. Here’s why …
(Click here to read Part I and there was clearly only one song I could write the rest of this post to.)
When the option for Talk Nerdy originally happened with Bruckheimer, I fought tooth and nail for the “based on the blog by Jen Friel” credit.
The money? Was money!
The credit of consulting producer? I don’t know what that means exactly, but sounds fun!
Everything else was what it was, but that ONE LINE was all I was interested in.
Do you understand the value of the line “based on the blog by Jen Friel” shown on the screen of a Jerry Bruckheimer TV show?
For those that aren’t 100% familiar with who Jerry Bruckheimer is, let me ed-u-ma-cate you.
Have you ever watched a television show? (ANY television show.)
Have you ever seen a movie? (ANY MOVIE – EVER.)
I am willing to bet you, Bruckheimer had something to do with it.
Here’s a roll call of some of my personal favorite films and shows (told almost all in one breath):
American Gigolo, Defiance, Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop (& II & III), Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Dangerous Minds, Crimson Tide, Bad Boys (& II), The Rock, Con Air, Armageddon, Coyote Ugly (which I didn’t know was optioned based on an article by Eat Pray Love’s Elizabeth Gilbert – she is so damn cool!), Gone in 60 Seconds, Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor, National Treasure, Deja Vu, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and the juggernaut franchises that are the CSI, NCIS TV shows and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Bruckheimer’s name in the news carries prefixes like legendary and uber producer.
If Hollywood had a throne, Jerry would be Bran.
(what? too soon?)
Bottom line, it wasn’t just that this blog got optioned (and sold), it was the name behind it.
Since 2014, I have leveraged that FRONT AND CENTER in my digital marketing efforts (both personally and professionally).
<tangent> Well, Jerry and my dog Buster Brown who is famous in his own right after being featured in Forbes last year.
I love that not only they published this photo but also that “Buster Brown Friel” got top credit. </tangent>
Anywho, leveraging said name was its own adventure considering it’s Hollywood and a shockingly small town. (Not like island small in terms of population, but small in terms of circles.)
During the meetings after someone found out that Bruckheimer had bought my blog, they would follow up and say “oh! You must also know ‘JBE’” (aka the actual executive I spoke to in the last post).
“Nope,” I’d say, “I was on an island while it happened” – which then created an entirely different tangent.
<tangent> Last year I met with Denver and Delilah (aka Charlize Theron’s company) and the executive there happened to be at Warner Brothers at the time (WB was also part of the option) and said “your pilot made TV history as Jerry Bruckheimer’s first comedic pilot!” Letting him walk right into it, I said “I had no idea! I was living on an island at the time.” Which was also, 100% true – I really did have no idea that Talk Nerdy was his first comedic pilot – that was really cool to hear. </tangent>
I knew from those meetings that JBE was the person I wanted to speak to and not Bruckheimer. I had in my back pocket a series of mutual friends, (more on that later) but common sense/ logic said “why not pick up the phone and call the guy? You received money from these people … THEY PAID YOU – CALL THEM, FRIEL.”
So I did.
It took two phone calls, one friend request, and two Facebook messages to see this incoming call on May 7th – (22 hours after the last Facebook message read “Hey there: I got your messages. I’m just back in the office this week and will call you.”)
“Holy shit, I think this might be JBE from Bruckheimer’s office,” I said out loud again to Buster Brown (he also comes into the office every day as head of HR).
I took a deep breath and said, “Hi this is Jen.”
“I have JBE for you, one moment please,” said the assistant.
I then closed the sliding barn door locking myself inside the office pantry(to pace in peace) and stood next to the mini-fridge adorned with a “no racoon sign” for the rabbi in our office (who is on the outside of an inside joke the nerds have).
“Hello,” said JBE as I heard his voice for the first time.
“Hi, this is Jen Friel,” I said as I mentally facepalmed myself knowing that HE was the one who called so OF COURSE he knows it’s me.
Recovering quickly, I took a deep breath, and said the only thing my heart and head wanted to say …
“thank you for changing my life.”
<tangent> I have only ever said that exact phrase two other times on this website.
The first time was to Scott Monty and the Ford Fiesta Movement. Had it not been for Ford, I would not have been able to give up everything that I owned to move into the back of the Fiesta and begin bartering social media to live (aka executing influencer marketing nine years before there was a term for it).
… and to the Modern Day Shaman, @realityadjacent for helping me with my emotional unavailability. I still laugh that when we first met and I saw the massage table in the office, I thought, “well, I’m either about to feel the efforts of a shaman, or I’m about to die.” There was literally no in between.
Eight years later and I’m not dead!!!
Words carry weight, and that sentence came from a very grateful place. Til the day I die, I can use the phrase “Jerry Bruckheimer bought my life rights” and win any conversation or room that I choose.
This call was more than that. I wanted them to know that I was ready and I had spent the last 19 months re-developing Talk Nerdy into the show I saw, and I’d be honored if they took a look at it.
I can’t remember if those were the exact words I said or not because mentally I was a goner after I got to say the phrase “thank you for changing my life.”
It’s 50 Shades of Gray meets Silicon Valley and based on the most popular series of posts on the site.
(I actually said this) “I still get slave requests SEVEN years later!!”
I haven’t written about the more recent ones since they weren’t worthy.
“Who are you repped by?” he asked.
I then told him about the packaging and that I wanted to find the writer first (to establish the tone). I did however keep CAA in the loop the entire time, and mentioned that I had the blessing of Jim Toth (as he is the agent to my business partner’s little brother).
I had done most of the talking up until that point, but after I mentioned my strategy with packaging politics he replied with one word – “smart.”
“I have an attorney though!” I said super excited.
“Great,” he said. “Have your attorney send it over and I’ll be traveling but will read it in about two weeks.”
At that point my heart stopped as I attempted to process the words he just said …
I. WILL. READ. YOUR. SCRIPT.
<tangent> Remember, when I first got the life rights, trademarks, and intellectual property back, executive after executive kept pushing me to write the script. Read the full story here. I may be a writer, but I have ZERO concept around character development, and arcs … all I knew was logically these were the most popular series of posts – so this what the show should be.
I WOULD NOT ALLOW my name to be on a script (as a writer) that Bruckheimer’s name was previously on – I was adamant about that.
And bee tee dubs, my sister/ badass partner in crime Heather Rutman and I made that decision BEFORE the #MeToo movement. We wrote the story that was one, truthful and two, what we wanted to watch. It’s the ultimate feminist fantasy hitting (pun intended) at a very interesting time culturally. </tangent>
Thank you, I will send it right over, I said in shock.
I have no idea at that point if I uttered the words “good bye,” or if I just hung up the phone … I just remember crouching next to the racoon sign taking as many deep breaths as I could.
Crouching nerd hidden vulnerability could be a thing, right raccoon?
Sometime later (time also stopped existing), I pulled open the barn door and began fist pumping my way out of the pantry. (I actually did this.)
HOLY SHIT, I SAID LOUDLY!!!
I actually took my passion and made it happen.
I’m a first time producer and the man who bought my life rights, trademarks, and intellectual property who is also THE MOST POWERFUL PRODUCER IN HOLLYWOOD is going to read my script based on what it was like discovering my own power.
I hung up the phone and shared the news with Heather, who was (as you can imagine) equally excited.
I then had to go for a walk because walking helps me think and breathe – both of which I needed in this life moment.
En route Heather texted as I broke down the analytics of what had just occurred.
Had it not been for the depression I’ve been feeling, I wouldn’t have been in such a clear state (thanks to self-care) and WHO KNOWS if I would have ever seen the MOST OBVIOUS NEXT STEP.
Depression not only started this website, it allowed me to take action yet again to go to … well, wherever the hell is next.
What a blessing, I thought!
When I got back, I messaged my attorney who was utterly shocked and equally