“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

What: A meteorite has hit Earth in central Colorado and unexplained occurrences follow.

Who: When the body of a golfer is recovered from the water hazard off the 9th hole, Hannah Price of the EPA is called in. The body, in the water for only a few minutes before it was pulled out, has been hideously disfigured; toxic chemicals are suspected.  Arriving shortly after Hannah is Dennis Burke, lead investigator for Talbot Industries, whose motto could be “toxic for you, profitable for me.” Resentful of Dennis’ presence, Hannah, and her lead analyst Eustice Hague, are, nevertheless, grateful for his prowess, especially when he proves to them that the culprit is not chemical toxins or any other biohazards with which they are familiar. Draining the water hazard, they are amazed when frogs, in Biblical numbers, emerge, seemingly unscathed. Further investigation, however, reveals a number of carbonaceous chondrite rock fragments – space rocks.

A known quack, Lloyd Truman, has been amassing evidence on his own for several years about the correlation of meteor showers and unexplained biological activity. Dennis, previously acquainted with Lloyd’s insane ramblings, agrees to listen.


Lloyd: Did you know the Venus fly trap only grows in parts of North and South Carolina?

Dennis: What’s that have to do --?

Lloyd: (cutting him off) It has no related species. What they call “taxonomically unique.”

Lloyd reaches in to the camper and takes out a metal detector.

Lloyd: It grows in an area pitted with crater lakes… Craters formed by meteors colliding with Earth long ago… Some scientists think it evolved from an alien organism.

Dennis: …An organism delivered here by a crashing meteorite.

Lloyd: What’s come down this time is a lot more dangerous.

Further explaining his theories to Hannah and Eustice,

Eustice: So, Mr. Truman, you believe there’s an organism or some manner of alien entity unique to the rocks from this comet?

Lloyd: Exactly. And it’s sort of like a virus. It gets into things, but then evolves differently each time. Which is why no one’s connecting the dots except me!

His eyes grow a little wild. He shoves back a swath of gray hair. Hannah and Eustice exchange looks. Seeing their skepticism, Lloyd pulls out files, tone more insistent:

Lloyd: Toronto – a full term baby was born at five months… A man in Wales can walk through walls… And tell me this…

Lloyd pulls up his sleeve, thrusts out an arm that’s scarred by a double row of bite marks.

Lloyd: …what beast has two sets of teeth?

When, the next day, Lloyd is found dead in the woods, hideously mutilated in much the same way as the golfer, Hannah and Dennis begin to take his theories more seriously.  Lloyd wasn’t far off, as the team discovers that the likely culprit in the mutilations is not a biotoxin but digestive enzymes; enzymes likely to have come from a new, mutated or vastly re-adapted species.

The question is no longer “what is the problem” but, rather, how to stop it before it spreads. Making her report on their findings to a Senate subcommittee, Hannah comes off as the “alien-of-the-week” reporter for  the “World Weekly News.”  When the government declines to support research into their specimens, Talbot Industries, ultimately interested in profiting from any possibly exploitable offshoots of the investigation, reaches into its deep pockets and funds the work of Dennis, Hannah and Eustice.

Dennis: So how do you propose we find these anomalies?

Hannah: I have a feeling they’ll find us.

No Meaner Place: Deviating from the other scripts profiled by “No Meaner Place,” Fox’s script is in the process of looking for a home.  A 2010 WGA Access Project honoree, Fox has written an extraordinarily chilling Sci-Fi pilot with great characters, terrific pacing and heart-stopping action, as well as the requisite amount of gore.  It is inconceivable to me that this very producible character-driven drama with procedural elements won’t be able to find a home. Like the best of the feature film horror genre, the true terror is in the eyes and screams of the victims, the evil is in the shadows – it is in the perception.

One of the first scripts profiled on “No Meaner Place” was a 2009 WGA Access Project honoree, “Chapel Hill” by Elizabeth Cosin. Although I am disappointed that this seems to be the sum total of what the WGA considers being proactive, this honorific should not be construed as a consolation prize. Fox’s outstanding script fully deserves this accolade and a seat at the table.  If any cable or broadcast network development execs are reading this article, please read this script and take pleasure in rediscovering this talented writer.

Life Lessons for Writers:  Prizes are great; jobs are better.


Conversation with the Writer:

Neely: Melody, do you consider yourself primarily a writer of Science Fiction?

Melody: No, but I really do seem to tend toward it. It’s fun to take great characters and throw them into situations that blow their mind and see how they rise to the occasion. With Sci-Fi the possibilities are really limitless. I’ve written a lot of other things – character drama, procedurals, kid’s animation, but I’m definitely partial to Science Fiction.

Neely: Like the best of Science Fiction, your terror-filled scenario finds its roots in the barely plausible. Where did you get the inspiration for this script?

Melody: This is a question that kind of excites me. What I think is great in Science Fiction is that the barely plausible may not be so implausible after all, and you go from there. It’s much more interesting to me whenever you start with the truth; start with the real science and then go. What I find exciting about this premise is that I don’t think this scenario is all that implausible. The inspiration is based in real science. Panspermia and exogenesis are hypotheses that propose that life on Earth was initially transferred here from elsewhere in the Universe via meteors and comets; that the precursors for life - amino acids, bacteria, biological material - were deposited here and the environmental conditions were ideal for it to become active, and replicate. Scientists have been debating these theories for 150 years, although exogenesis and panspermia are still just hypotheses. What we do know is that meteorites fall to Earth all the time. Meteors come into our atmosphere and most of them burn up, or they explode as the air pressure increases and scatter fragments all over. We also know that NASA has retrieved samples from meteors and the tail of a comet. Their studies have found organic compounds present in both.

Even Watson and Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA, entertained the idea of panspermia. These are some of the top guys in the entire world in the last century, Nobel Prize winners, molecular biologists who studied the genetic code. If anybody knows where life comes from, it ought to be them. So if they think it’s conceivable that microbes from someplace else hitched a ride on an asteroid, it’s a hypothesis worth considering.

Though theoretically this would have occurred over three billion years ago, there are some proponents of the hypothesis who contend that life forms continue to enter the Earth’s atmosphere and may be responsible for epidemic outbreaks, new disease, and genetic anomalies.

Anyway, that’s where I started – I like to start with the real science and if I considered these ideas as possible truths they became a jumping off point for me in developing the series. I thought, what if some sort of primitive alien organism, frozen inside a meteor and traveling through space for a billion plus years, suddenly made it to Earth now  – and our environment, with its sunlight and atmosphere and delicious nutrients in water and soil stimulated the organism and acted like an evolutionary accelerant. But the organism would not be restricted to one area because a meteor exploding in its descent toward Earth would scatter meteorite fragments over an entire continent. The organism would evolve differently depending upon the environment it was introduced into and what it first came into contact with. And since the organism is foreign to us and not playing by the rules of genetics that we are familiar with, it forces our heroes to be very open-minded about what’s going on and creative in how they can stop it.

Neely: I was aware that Crick wrote a book entitled Life Itself that presented his panspermia hypothesis on the origin of life, a hypothesis that he worked on with Leslie Orgel, his close friend and fellow Salk Institute colleague. Somewhere in the house we have a signed copy because my husband Larry was also at the Salk at that time (working on the brain, but definitely not on panspermia). I don’t believe Watson was a proponent of Crick’s hypothesis. He supported an earlier theory on what has become known as “RNA World.” Scientists, such as Watson and another Nobelist, Thomas Cech, believe that pre-cellular life originates in RNA which can act both as enzymes and genes.

Melody: I didn’t know about the book but I knew that Crick had had some thoughts on directed panspermia as if life had intentionally been sent here. I found that on the internet; but then that’s getting into a whole other area about intelligent life forms that are trying to procreate and expand their species.

Neely: Who, if anyone, did you consult?

Melody: I talked to a professional meteorite hunter named Ruben Garcia who’s in Arizona; he was extremely helpful. He’s known as Mr. Meteorite and I found him on the internet. He had all these really well done and understandable YouTube videos where he talks about how to recognize a meteorite and what happens when they come into the atmosphere. He doesn’t use science techno-babble. I emailed him and he called me right away. He spent a lot of time with me on the phone and now I have an open invitation to come to Phoenix and see his meteorite collection.

I also sat down with three other people – my brother, Richard Fox, who happens to have a PhD in physics with an undergraduate degree in chemistry; my niece Sarah, who is well-versed in science; and my friend Tim Shell, the human encyclopedia. They were instrumental in helping me keep this grounded in science. There’s an expression that says “never let the truth get in the way of a good story,” and I know that it’s important to dramatize and take liberties when necessary, but at the same time I wanted to go over story ideas with them for a semblance of accuracy.  I want to create a TV show with legs that can easily go five seasons. So we came up with future episode ideas and discussed how we could make it work. Starting with facts gives the material a ring of authenticity. I also contacted some people at the EPA.

I like to do research. The truth is often more interesting than something I could make up. Doing research opens my mind up and fosters more creative possibilities.

Neely: What do you want to have come across in this series?

Melody: For me, the theme for the piece has to do with disrupted Eco systems, introducing a new organism is going to affect everything around it. We see that now because our terrestrial eco systems are getting totally screwed up. Take the example of the Asian carps that were brought here for koi ponds and were released into fresh water lakes and streams; they’re very aggressive and are taking over their new environment. They’re disrupting, in some cases destroying eco-systems that have taken thousands, possibly millions of years to become established. They’re using up the food sources. There’s the issue down in Florida with the pythons and alligators fighting for territory and food. Pythons aren’t supposed to be there. Probably somebody had a pet and didn’t want it anymore and didn’t want to kill it so they thought it would be humane to release it in the wild; and now they’ve upset an entire eco-system. For me, the disrupted eco-system was the overall theme of the series and is featured in many of my scripts.

Neely: In talking to your manager, I was under the impression that this is still making the rounds; or at least I hope it still is. Can you talk about where you have taken it and where it stands?

Melody: It actually hasn’t gone out yet. He’s putting a list together of prospective production companies; we’re just getting ready to send it out within the next couple of weeks.

Neely: You have interesting credits – all indicating skills in a number of different areas. Apparently you started out writing for “Rugrats,” all the while honing those Sci-Fi skills with some freelance scripts. There was a stint on a short lived show called “Skin,” followed by a short-lived soap, “South Beach,” and then “Flash Gordon” on Syfy. As we all know, employment on shows that last one season or less is the luck of the draw and often sets the writer back; so instead, let’s talk about “Rugrats.” I recently talked to a writer who indicated that “Rugrats” gave him tremendous credibility with the younger set. How about you? A good thing or not?

Melody: It was absolutely a good thing. “Rugrats” has a lot of fans, both young and old. In terms of my career in animation, “Rugrats” was a very tough show to get on; they were very selective about writers so it turned out to be a good credit. I’d actually written on other animated shows before “Rugrats” and have written on some since then, but what I think is most relevant is that I learned a skill set writing animation that was also applicable to live action. A lot of people have a bit of a prejudice against animation and think it’s very different, but you have to learn to tell a good story; you have to structure it properly; you have to mimic character voices that other people have created; you have to be funny if it’s a comedy; creative if it’s science fiction; you have to turn things in on deadline and take notes (learn to graciously take notes) and incorporate them well. These are all skills that are going to apply to live action. So to me, it was a tremendous experience. I also wrote animated pilots and I was hired to develop the “Stuart Little” movie into a television series. I wrote the pilot for that, hired the other writers and supervised them. All in all, animation was a great experience and gave me a great skill set; and it’s darn fun to write.

Neely: Would you consider going back to animation?

Melody: I actually go back and forth. I still do some kid shows as well.

Neely: It’s not covered by the WGA, is it?

Melody: No it’s not. It’s either non-union or it’s covered by the animation guild. If it’s the animation guild, there are benefits; there just aren’t any residuals. There’s a lot of camaraderie in animation because it’s mainly freelance and the show staffs are very small; so you freelance on a wider variety of series and you end up having a bigger network of people that you know than in the live action world.

Neely: Did you find it harder to break into live action from animation?

Melody: I don’t think the animation credits hurt me. I found it harder to break into live action, period. It’s a bear – there’s a lot of competition and a lot of good writers out there; some are working and some aren’t. I felt like I paid my dues. I’ve written something like 21 spec scripts at this point in time. I went through the Warner Brothers workshop, which was terrific; I went through the AFI drama writers’ workshop; I was an assistant on television shows, an assistant by day and writing animation assignments by night. Being an assistant helped me learn more about one hour drama and allowed me to meet people who could give me advice and help me.

Neely: How did you break into animation?

Melody: I wrote an animated spec script and nobody read it for two years, and then I got a referral. A friend of a friend, Cliff MacGillivray, was running a show. He liked my samples but said that there probably wasn’t going to be anything available on his show, but he let me pitch anyway. I considered it an opportunity, even though he was saying that there was probably absolutely nothing for me. Then I got a call one night and the exhausted voice on the phone asked if I could come to his office right then and help write a script. I stayed up all night working with him. He was impressed I was able to pick up the character voices immediately, and I ended up with five assignments on that show.

Neely: I must say that I had a preconceived notion when I started reading “Firefall” because I had read a wonderful one act play you wrote a number of years ago and was expecting something like that. The play, entitled “The Bazooka Suit,” was in a completely different genre. At the time, I recommended “The Bazooka Suit” to David Kelley with the following synopsis:

Gwen, nervous about her first date since her divorce from Freddie, chooses her outfit, a very bazooka pink suit. Nervous, and about to cancel the date, Freddie arrives unexpectedly declaring his eternal love and wanting her to come to a family gathering with him. Gwen, conflicted, learns that he has never told his family about the divorce; testing Freddie's sincerity, she covers his eyes and asks him to describe her - he can't.  Freddie can't see anyone but himself; Gwen is finally over him. Her date arrives, he "sees" her; it will go well.

I recently re-read it and still love it. I’m still in awe of your ability to write fully developed character and tell a complex story within a short one-act structure. Please indulge me while I pull out a wonderful scene from your short play. Gwen, agonizing over her first date with her best friend Joanie, is less than thrilled when her mother Mona arrives to give moral support.

Gwen: Mom, what are you doing here?

Mona: It’s a big night, I wanted to be here for support. And I brought you breath mints.

Mona hands her a package of Tic-Tacs.

Gwen: What I need is a Xanax, do they make those in spearmint?

Mona: You feel jittery now, Darling, but in an hour you’ll be sitting next to that young man chatting and laughing, completely relaxed. You’ll wonder why on Earth you didn’t start dating again sooner.

Gwen: (for the 100th time) This is plenty soon enough.

Mona grabs Gwen’s hand and leads her into the center of the room.

Mona: Now let me get a good look at you.

Mona looks her up and down.

Gwen: Please don’t criticize, Mom. I’ve tried on everything I own except my wedding dress and that blouse with the collar that makes my head look square.

Joanie: I can vouch for that.

Gwen: Honestly, if you tell me to change again, I’ll have to pull down the drapes and start sewing.

Mona: That suit is stunning on you.

Gwen: Really? Oh. (beat) Thank you.

Mona: But did you get the shoes from a stripper?

Neely: What kind of moral support do you get from your mother?

Melody: My mother and father have never once told me to quit writing and get a real job. They are incredibly supportive and always have been. They will watch anything that I write, whether it’s “Flash Gordon” or “Rugrats.” In fact, I got my dad hooked on “Rugrats.”

Neely: Mona, the mother of the play, is actually described with great affection, even though you can see the cringe on Gwen’s face when her mother enters. It could be the mother or it could be just the circumstances (although I suspect the former). What was the inspiration for this particular play?

Melody: I had written a lot of spec scripts for existing TV shows and I was looking for something I could write that would demonstrate my unique voice in dramedy. It’s not a big concept, but I wanted something that was relatable and something where I could focus on character and dialog. I do think there’s something relatable about mothers and daughters. There’s all that history and mothers have a way of pushing buttons. I know that if I go home to Indiana and I’m getting ready to leave, my mother will say, “You’re wearing that blouse to the party?” I’m an adult. “Yes, I’m wearing this blouse! There’s nothing wrong with this blouse.” And I’ll start to leave and then of course, suddenly in the back of my mind, “What’s the matter with this blouse?” Mothers and daughters have a special relationship and I thought I’d explore it.

Neely: I think “But did you get the shoes from a stripper?” resonates with all of us girls. Not that Mom has ever said that particular thing, but it’s always the “You’re wearing that?!”

Has this been produced anywhere?

Melody: No it has not.

Neely: There are contests for one act plays. I think this is actually something that is very competitive.

Melody: Thank you. I’d love to see it put into a one act festival.

Neely: Interestingly, this would have been the perfect piece to send out this year since every network is doing one, and in some cases two, romantic comedies on relationships. So, if it’s not too late, it should still be going out.

Have you ever given any thought to expanding this play into a television comedy? The theme of a divorced woman venturing back into the dating pool is neither new nor particularly original, but your main character has warmth and depth and her back-up singers, the prototypical best friend and all-too-helpful mother are fun.

Melody: I haven’t thought of expanding it because it’s not a high concept piece; I didn’t think it was something that would attract networks. But I think it’s very important to create likeable characters, so I appreciate your response to it.

Neely: How about a little background information. Where did you go to school?

Melody: Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, which is also my home town. I was living about 4 miles from my parents for 4 years. I was a telecommunications major with a minor in theater and business. Then when I came to Los Angeles, there were a lot of different opportunities for writers to take classes specific to television writing. I went to the Script Writers’ Network, the Alameda Writers’ Group; the WGA has great seminars and panels where you can learn about writing and the business. I also attended an AFI Drama writer’s workshop, and as I mentioned previously, I got into the Warner Brothers program. So I had a lot of specific training outside of college.

Neely: Do you remember what piece of material it was that got you into the Warner Brothers program which is so competitive?

Melody: My “West Wing” spec called “Someone Else’s Problem.”

Neely: Did you always want to be a writer?

Melody: Absolutely. I wrote my first story in first grade on that paper with the really wide lines so that you learn to craft your letters properly. I can remember hand writing scripts in high school. I just always wanted to do it.

Neely: Any mentors along the way?

Melody: I did. I’ve had a lot of people who have been really helpful – giving me advice, referrals. Jim Leonard, who hired me on “Skin,” has been a great mentor to me. He gave me my first staff job on a one hour show. The most important thing I learned from him was in the writers’ room. Up til that time I’d always written spec scripts and animation which are closed ended stories; “Skin” was a character drama; it was basically a big soap and I had to learn how to look at stories in terms of 6 and 13 episode arcs. You’re always building towards something; it’s a much bigger picture. At the same time that you’re doing that, you have to look at the individual episode and make sure that the episode is interesting; that it has enough emotion and incident. It’s a puzzle piece but it also has to be a satisfying, interesting episode. That was a great experience for me and I learned a lot from him. I also learned a lot about delving into the emotion of the scene from Gina Fattore and Natalie Chaidez. Gina told me not to hold back, that it was okay if people who love each other say awful things to each other. That happens in real life, it happens in television and it’s okay to start at that place and adjust from there. Doris Egan has been a terrific mentor to me. She has given me a lot of business and creative advice. Philip Levens who was my EP on “South Beach” has been great. Even though I was one of the lower level writers, he gave me as much responsibility as the upper level writers and that was a great learning experience. You rise to the occasion. We continue to be friends and are developing something together that we’re going to pitch.

Neely: What are you reading right now and what are you watching on television?

Melody: It’s summer right now and high time for cable, so I’ve been watching shows like “Eureka,” “Leverage,” “Haven,” “Burn Notice.” “Rookie Blue” is an ABC summer series that’s really well done. I’ve also been watching the “Torchwood” DVDs because “Torchwood,” which was on the BBC, is going to be on Starz next year, so I’m amping up for the new season.

Neely: What about this last season of broadcast?

Melody: I was a big fan of “Lost.” I was sad that “Mercy” went away because I thought it was really well done. “Glee” is great and has humor and heart like another Ryan Murphy show I liked from ten years ago called “Popular.” I watch a lot of television; I think it’s my job; it’s my job to know what’s out there. I was watching “Flashforward” and “V” – all the Science Fiction shows. I still like procedurals. I can still sit down and watch an episode of “CSI” after 10 years and be entertained and engaged. I think they’ve done a really good job of keeping that show fresh and finding ways to keep it inventive and interesting.

Neely: So what are you reading right now?

Melody: Scripts! Most of my reading is either research I’m doing on the internet for some particular idea or a script. I love reading pilot scripts. I didn’t make it through all of the pilot scripts for this season yet.

Neely: Any favorites?

Melody: I loved “Breakout Kings.” I’m so happy it went to A&E because I thought the characters were incredibly well crafted; I could hear the voices. I think it’s a new franchise – a new way to do a procedural. I liked “Terra Nova.” I think it’s going to be very interesting. It’s a midseason on Fox. It’s got an interesting concept. In the future human beings have been so incredibly irresponsible that we have overpopulated the Earth and have used up all of our natural resources – there are no plants left; there are no animals left. We eat protein twists to survive. They’ve created a time machine or a time portal in which they were able to go back to one particular era – one way travel only. They take a population and put them back into a prehistoric era. What I think is interesting and it goes back to my interest in eco-systems, is that you’ve taken a human population with modern concerns and technology and you’re putting them into a prehistoric eco-system that was functioning just fine without humans. What are we going to do to that? There are all sorts of moral, ethical and religious implications. I don’t know how much they’ll explore that in the show, but if these humans are on earth long before Christ or Buddha or anyone else, how is that going to affect religion?

Neely: Any scripts in previous years that you really loved but that didn’t make it?

Melody: “Captain Cook’s Extraordinary Atlas.”

Neely: That was the first script I wrote about for the blog. I still haven’t been able to pin down Tom Wheeler for a talk, though.  He has a mid season pickup this year for “The Cape.”

Melody: I just loved “Captain Cook’s Extraordinary Atlas.” I was in awe from page one. Each character had a distinct voice and you felt for that poor mother with the eccentric kid. I can still remember details and I haven’t read it for a couple of years.

Neely: It was my favorite script that year. I still believe that it’s a book franchise – it’s the new “Harry Potter.” Forget what happened on the pilot and just develop it into a book series.

Melody: John McNamara and David Eick’s Sci-Fi script “Them” also comes to mind as a great script that didn’t make it to series. I noticed you profiled it on No Meaner Place. John is a writer I really love and think is under appreciated even though he works all the time. I worked as his script coordinator years ago for my day job. I would slip away at the lunch hour to take meetings or get notes calls, and then write my animation assignments at night. John wrote dark characters like “Profit” and Mr. Chapel on “Vengeance Unlimited” played by Michael Madsen – a guy who goes out and gets revenge for other people. John used to say that people should say less and he’d really tighten up the dialog and his characters did not have long monologues. Then he surprised me by writing “Eyes” which had this very outgoing, personable, verbose character. I really loved that show; it had great characters and witty dialog. I always knew he was a terrific writer but I never expected him to write that particular kind of character.

If I may paraphrase a few favorite bits of advice that I’ve heard John share: (1) If you’re writing an episode and have something that will make an absolutely great third act break, make it your first act break.  If it’s that good, push it forward, don’t withhold, or your audience may not still be watching by the third act.  (2) Emotional jeopardy is just as important as physical jeopardy and can make an effective act out.  And (3), don’t name your TV show after your characters because if an actor becomes difficult you can’t kill them off.

Neely: That last piece of advice is one learned too late by too many.

So, if you could staff on any television show right now, either upcoming or returning, what would it be?

Melody: “Torchwood” – it’s incredibly well done. It’s Sci-Fi and it has big concepts, but it’s always very character based. I used to love “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” because they always had character-based stories. “Torchwood” does something similar in that whatever the alien problem of the week is, it always affects them in a very personal way. “Breakout Kings,” definitely. The characters are incredibly well drawn and, as much as I love Science Fiction, I love shows that have some sort of a franchise – a built in story engine where you can see how your characters are going to react to the challenges and obstacles that week. I’d also love to write for “Terra Nova.” It’s going to be great Sci-Fi but it’s told from the point of view of a family so there will be emotion and rich relationships within this high-concept premise. But what I’d really like to work on is whatever show is going to be on for the next 10 years. Is that wrong? To want a job for a long time? To get that opportunity to move up the ranks and learn a lot more about producing.

Neely: I think that’s a great answer. So, what else are you working on right now?

Melody: I recently developed a project with Philip Levens that I mentioned earlier. I also developed a TV pilot with Peter Hume who was my executive producer on “Flash Gordon” that we just pitched to ABC. And I’m researching some other pilot concepts to write solo. I have an idea with a private investigator franchise. Obviously that’s not exactly a new area, but I think I’ve figured out a fresh new way into this franchise through the character. And you know how I love to do research, so when I knew that I wanted to do a PI show I went to a PI school. There’s a guy who teaches at a school for private investigators and bounty hunters and he let me take a couple of classes to check it out. I’ve also met with some private investigators. Recently, I went on a stake-out with one private investigator. You’re sitting in the car all day long; there’s nothing to do, watching these people, trying to catch them doing whatever it is that you’re trying to catch them doing. I picked his brain about all these different cases he’s had. Immediately, as he’s telling me these things, I’m starting to generate story ideas in my head. I interviewed another private investigator who was a former cop. I went with him to interview a witness and I had to pretend to be a private eye at his firm. There were four people in the room and every person had a different agenda. It was like I was in the middle of a good scene from a TV show with characters at cross-purposes.

Recently I was looking for some particular idea in my filing cabinet and I’m going past all these ideas I’ve had over the years. I keep notes and print out articles. I’ll see some random thing, some random medical story about something that’s an anomaly that happened and I’ll think – that’s a great story idea for a TV show and I’ll file that away. And thumbing past all those files I saw some great concepts that I haven’t fully developed yet. So I’d better get cracking on them!

Neely: I look forward to reading your next script and hope you’ll let me take a look at it. I have my fingers crossed on “Firefall” and for you. Thank you very much.


"Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision."

- Salvador Dali