Sam and Jim

Back in the day, every writer’s purported dream was to publish the Great American Novel. In the Seventies, that evolved into the Great American Screenplay. In the Nineties and now, what with the re-legitimization of series television and a redefinition of what is acceptable entertainment (thanks to HBO most notably with The Sopranos and Six Feet Under and Showtime; with programs like Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere paving the way on broadcast television in the Eighties), it’s the Great American Television Series. (Which is not to say that there doesn’t remain a healthy [or not] passel of writers aiming to shoot the moon with a million-dollar screenplay sale in addition to selling a series).

Case in point, Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn, a pair of Midwestern restaurateurs-cum-screenwriters who packed up everything and moved to Los Angeles to strike it big in Hollywood. They regularly podcast about the trials and travails, the ups and downs, the ins and outs, and the whichevers and whatevers of writing for the big and small screens.

In addition to being very witty and their own best audience (think of them as the writing world’s answer to Tom and Ray Magliozzi), they also speak with considerable savvy about the acts of screenwriting and television writing, both from the creative and the business sides. Broken up into 20 half-hour-or-so shows thus far, their podcast Sam and Jim Go to Hollywood provides a smart compendium of what anybody thinking of writing for TV or the movies needs to consider. Though they are currently discussing writing a spec script for the fine TV series House, go back and start listening from the beginning. It was not a straight line that brought them to where they are now.

Check out their website, which not only provides links to their podcasts but also offers up writing examples (a spec script they wrote for The West Wing just replaced one they wrote for The Simpsons), as well as their blog, Sam and Jim Recommend. The writer in you wannabe or actual won’t be disappointed.

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