When I was 10 years old I skipped my Nana’s birthday party to watch the conclusion of a two-part episode of Nickelodeon’s Salute Your Shorts titled “Budnick Loves Dina.” The episode revolved around Camp Anawanna’s ginger bad boy Bobby Budnick developing romantic feelings for resident It Girl Dina Alexander. Grandmothers turn 67 every day, but the Budnick/Dina cliffhanger was like the moon landing for fans of young adult camp-based hijinks.
My devotion to television intensified with age. Having a cruddy day? Your old pal television is like, “Hey, friend. Wine up, pajama out, and allow me to help you ignore that never-ending whack-a-mole of frustration known as your day job with sexy doctors, quippy cops, and Tony Award-winner Sutton Foster.”
At 24, the age where optimism fizzles from your soul like you just won a soda and Pop Rocks guzzling contest, I decided I would move to New York and become a television writer. I whipped up an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia spec and experienced minor success when my script made the top 5 percent of a network fellowship competition. I assumed, like a stone cold dunce, that my invitation behind the velvet rope of Hollywood was a year away. Maybe two.
Eight years later — after writing 14 more pilots, hundreds of sketches, and in the neighborhood of 10,000 hours of blog posts — I, an unrepped writer, was miraculously afforded the opportunity to turn my half-hour comedy script into a 22-minute pilot. How does one achieve such a rare opportunity without the last name Wolf, Rhimes, or Murphy? One word, three syllables: blackmail.