How to Make It: Rules for Success from TV Writers

Joel Fields

Experience: Producer and writer, Secret Agent Man (UPN); executive producer and writer, Kate Brasher (CBS); writer, Over There (FX); writer, Commander in Chief (ABC); executive producer and writer, Dirt (FX); executive producer and writer, Ugly Betty (ABC); writer, Raising the Bar (TNT); executive producer and writer, Rizzoli and Isles (TNT); executive producer and writer, The Americans (FX)

Advice: "My first passion was theater. I wrote plays through college, but was also passionate about television and film. When I graduated, I got a job as a production assistant in Los Angeles. As I was working as a PA, I pitched ideas for TV movies until the person I was working for started to listen. Then, I was able to sell some of the pitches. One was the story of Frank Nitti, who was portrayed in The Untouchables as a psychotic killer, but, in reality, was the brains behind the Chicago mob in many ways. That was made eventually with a then-unknown Anthony LaPaglia. I learned then that, if you control material, you can start to control your destiny.

"The first show I worked on was Legacy, about a family living in the Wild West. A very generous executive producer named Chris Abbott gave me a shot at writing a script, and from there i went to work on Secret Agent Man on UPN. That allowed me to write a pilot for a show called Homewood P.I. that was made at CBS. And I've been going ever since."

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