Sunday, May 31, 2009

Don't hate me, but...

I couldn't resist giving people a little more to chew on than whatever slim pickings might be available through traditional channels. Plus I thought some of you might enjoy getting a glimpse of the back and forth between t.v. show producers and their lords and masters at the networks. "Lord Master" is a "current programming" executive at CBS, and a while back he asked me for an email summary of our plans for next season, such as they were at that early date. I sent him the following email, from which I've "REDACTED" content here and there (and okay, almost everywhere) to avoid spoiling too much for those of you who want to be surprised...

And I swear, this is the actual email; I didn't just create it to be cute...

================

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "P.K. Simonds"
Date: Fri, 8 May 2009 12:56:23 -0700
Subject: BULLET POINTS FOR SEASON 5
To: Lord M
Cc:

Lord, per your request:

For Season 5 we're refreshing the show again, shaking things up and making big changes to keep our storytelling bold and surprising.

In a nutshell, the season will be very much about REDACTED and REDACTED, and especially Melinda's GIFTED CHILD. The scope of his powers -- which turn out to be REDACTED -- will gradually become apparent, and will help reveal a strange and dangerous new supernatural dimension to Melinda.

High Points:

-- Melinda's baby will be born in a dramatic REDACTED

-- Soon thereafter, REDACTED

-- Melinda and Jim have waited on pins and needles to see what gift their child might have, but REDACTED

-- Because the child has little understanding of his gift, and less control over its intensity, it puts him REDACTED

-- The child's gift also opens NEW PSYCHIC PORTALS to Melinda when REDACTED

-- Melinda learns of dimensions of the beyond she'd never known about. Dimensions that harbor both miraculous and lethal spirit energy, and whose limits are not even fully known to the WATCHERS.

-- One of these dimensions finds a focal point in the REDACTED, since it's a source of so much emotional energy -- and so many restless spirits.

REDACTED

-- Clues to the meaning of all this will continue to be found in the BOOK OF CHANGES, which Eli still safeguards against mysterious dark forces.

-- Eli may get his own unasked-for new connection to the spirit world when REDACTED come back to haunt him as ghosts.

-- Lots of stories will now be accessed through REDACTED where REDACTED has begun a new career. It's a REDACTED that becomes more of a character as its complex history is gradually revealed.

REDACTED

Thanks for all your support.

P.K.

==============

Like I say, don't hate me for being a tease. There's actually more information here than might be apparent at first glance. As time goes by -- and we know more -- we'll give you some more hints...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Writers Day One

May 19, 2009. Today was our first day in the Writers Room. We welcomed our newest writer Stephanie Sengupta (a longtime vet of the Law and Order dynasty and a very talented writer who happens to also be a longtime fan of our show) and we talked about the big ideas for the season. (Did I mention the ideas are BIG?) Then we took turns pitching individual episode ideas. We have an excellent writing staff, so there were some excellent pitches. Prepare to be seriously entertained this season.

Oh yeah, and we wasted a little time catching each other up on what we did for our summer vacation. (For writers of network television, summer vacation comes in the spring.)

I also sat down with Exec. Producer Ian Sander and Production Designer Mayling Cheng, to talk about sets for the upcoming season. Because of some big story developments, (BIG) our sets need to be heavily reimagined and rebuilt. Not to mention the fact that we're finally returning to our backlot sets, which burned down almost a year ago. There'll be some changes there, too. See if you spot them. (Hint: We're incorporating some elements of the Warner Bros. backlot which we shot on all last season, whose "town square" -- formerly of Gilmore Girls fame -- looks a little different from ours.) Universal Studios, our longtime home, where we shot before the fire, is working literally around the clock to get our backlot sets ready for us by our production start.

We're booking directors quickly -- talented vets from years past, as well as some new faces to keep things fresh. And we're watching to see what CBS does with their schedule. We haven't officially been given our timeslot yet, and rumors are flying about interesting new possibilities as far as who we might be scheduled with. (The competition from other networks looks interesting too...)

More soon...

Gotta Love Love

May 18, 2009. Flying back from New York where I had a terrific meeting with John Gray (congrats on a first rate season finale, John!), followed by a great time watching Jamie do his stand up routine. For some reason even after working with the guy for a year I had no idea Jamie could be THAT funny. (If you ever get a chance to see him don't miss it, and make sure he does his "I'm a good girl" bit -- one of the funniest (if raunchiest) routines I've ever seen.)

Possibly even more amazing, however, was the sight, after Jamie's show was over, of Jennifer Love Hewitt, International Superstar and Preferred Paparazzi Prey, cheerfully manning the sales booth and making change for fans of Jamie's who want to buy books, dvd's and t-shirts as souvenirs. She has a smile (and correct change) for everyone, poses for pictures, and just as often volunteers to hold the camera for fans who want their picture taken with Jamie. (Apparently there are still a few people who don't know who Love is.) Then she helps pack everything up and shleps it to storage for the next show. I knew the woman could take care of herself and others, having been served amazing home cooked meals by her. But still. To see it in action like this. Unreal. We could all use a roadie like J Love.

Looking forward to the official call from CBS telling us we're coming back to Fridays at 8pm. Until then we're moving forward with our story work. It's going to be another intense year for viewers, so get ready!

Here goes nothing. Well, hopefully something...

First official blog entry. The site wasn't up and working when I wrote the post that's below (or the batch that follow), so the posting dates may not match the entry dates you see. After the first few posts, expect this to act like a real, grownup blog. Thanks for your patience...

May 14, 2009. 2pm. I'm writing this on a plane to New York to meet with John Gray about storytelling for next season. (And going to see Jamie and Love at one of Jamie's comedy concerts.) Might also run into some tv biz friends who are all in the city for "upfronts". Recently spent a week with Laurie McCarthy and Mark Perry hashing out broad outlines of season five. But it's always a good idea to go back to the Originator for a booster shot of Ghost Whisperer mojo.

The writing staff will be reconvening full time next week. Good news is the network just let us know (a little ahead of the official announcement, so we can start setting our schedule and hiring directors) that we've been picked up for next season (!), and that they're very happy with our early thoughts about story directions for season 5. Bad news? Well, there really isn't any yet because there isn't much news at all. Doing a show means managing up to eight episodes at a time, all in various stages of writing, preproduction, production and post production. Now is the best part in some ways because it's all in the dream phase (and not yet in the all nighter phase!) As any writers out there know -- or dreamers of any kind -- things are always best in the dream phase.

So what are we dreaming about for next year? Big dreams. We ended the season with a "hopper" full of interesting episode ideas, but as a showrunner you always hope to come up with more than episodes. You want to find a big idea. A way to look at a season that helps it become an event of its own. That was what last season gave us. We want nothing less for next. If you're wondering what that means, there are plenty of clues in the season four finale that just aired. But there's also lots you don't know -- and hopefully won't guess! The show is going to make some very big changes. As always, we're looking for stuff that gives us interesting stories to tell, stories with high stakes. And we want to find life-changing challenges for our characters to give them -- and the audience -- the most thrilling journey possible.

Perhaps you're wondering: Is anyone going to die? Dudes, the show is called Ghost Whisperer. People are going to die. Including people we care about? Well, otherwise, I mean, who would care...?

Stay tuned to this blog and to Ian and Kim's blog on tvguide.com, and we'll keep the tidbits and clues and insider stuff coming.

And as always, thanks from the bottom of our hearts for watching.

P. K. Simonds