Diary Notes of a drama producer in LA, 2022 vs 2023

Los Angeles

With the US writers strike finally at an end, Arrested Industries CEO Anthony Kimble reflects on the past five months and compares his diary notes from early September 2022 with a day in early September 2023…

SEPT 2022, 07.00: Run through diary with maddeningly efficient assistant. With three projects in paid development, incredible new IP in the pipeline and four pilots just delivered, the next few months in LA will be crazy!

SEPT 2023, 07.00: Had to sack the annoyingly efficient EA; there’s not much to organize anymore. Read strike updates in the trades over breakfast. There’s a picture of Carol Lombardini that makes her look like a bulldog with distemper. The strike might continue into the New Year. Make note to start developing more documentaries…

Anthony Kimble

SEPT 2022, 09.00: I’m in the valet queue at Soho House behind John Hamm, he’s driving a gorgeous car, but I shrug it off when I notice he’s wearing last season’s Prada loafers. Breakfast with a Broadway playwright. I pick up the tab – $100 for two green juices and egg white omelettes! But it’s money well spent; he wants to work with us on the screen adaptation.

SEPT 2023, 09.00: As we can’t engage with any of our creative collaborators, I pick up a script from the unsolicited materials I’ve been sent. It’s titled The Amorous Astronaut. Then I see the strapline: “Lost in Zero G-spot”. I roll my eyes and toss it, along with the remaining scripts, in the bin.

SEPT 2022, 11.00: We’re kicking off a writers’ room with our brilliant but fierce new showrunner. Time to make magic, people! An assistant takes lunch orders and collects my credit card: the showrunner wants seared ahi tuna salad and a Bella Hadid glow up collagen smoothie from Erewhon (grocers that makes Whole Foods look like a dollar-store). Anything to keep the talent happy…

SEPT 2022, 13.00: Lunch number two at the Polo Lounge. I’m pitching exciting new IP to a studio exec. It’s wall to wall celebrities and power players – not a wrinkle in their immaculate outfits nor over-botoxed foreheads. The studio exec loves the IP – YA erotic lesbian vampire adventures are so now. She picks up lunch – and a six-figure option. Huzzah!

SEPT 2023, 12.00: No lunch meeting today. Shrinking budgets are definitely benefitting my waistline. I receive an email; the studio exec wants to meet asap. It’s not good news. Apparently, lesbian vampires don’t fit with the studio’s new mandate for commercial properties that will work in middle America. The project will be put into turnaround, and we need to pay back the option fees and development money. I cancel my Tuscan villa holiday.

SEPT 2022, 15.00: Successful table read of a new show. The cast’s chemistry is palpable, and, in one instance, the network exec laughed so hard she snorted. Excellent – surely, they will order the show to series.

SEPT 2023, 15.00: I binge reality TV for inspiration as there’s bound to be an uptick in those, right? Survivor: The Writer’s Room Edition, America’s Next Top Script Doctor or maybe The Golden Bachelor: Final Draft. Who needs scripted drama?

SEPT 2022, 18.00: Cocktails at the Sunset Tower bar with agent friends, one of whom always lets his guard down after a little vintage Krug. A mere $600 later, we’ve got the latest on a hot young actor we were hoping to cast in our next series. He’s about to be cancelled after being caught in a drug-fueled, X-rated moment in the bogs at Chateau Marmont. It’ll be all over TMZ soon. Hmm, we may have to rethink that one.

CC: Vincentas Liskauskas (Unsplash)

SEPT 2023, 18.00: Our casting call has been cancelled as the showrunner can’t engage in creative discussions. I glance across the room and ponder auditioning my dog: he has the emotional range of a baked potato but he’s super cute. I wonder if we can explore ideas with non-human leads – Jurassic Bark anyone?

SEPT 2022, 20.00: To a launch party at a house in the hills. It’s all caviar and C-suite, with a crustacean bar nestling between the sound bath and reiki healing tent. This couldn’t be more LA if you tried. It’s for a ‘micro budget’ horror movie that ended up in a streamer bidding war. The producer admits they got lucky with the $40M ‘Streamberry’ spent. I choke on my ayahuasca-laced mocktail and decide to call it a night. However, I’m buzzing to know there’s so much money out there. Surely, it’s only a matter of time before I sell one of my own indie films for 100 times its cost….

SET 2023, 20.00: No screening invites, no parties. I consider watching that indie horror flick. I met the producer last year… but decide to take an edible and hark back to simpler times with re-runs of Bake Off

The above is based on actual events, but names and locations may have been changed for dramatic purposes.

Check out Anthony Kimble’s other recent TBI columns:

Unpacking the reality of being a producer

Shifting targets in South Africa amid Hollywood shutdown

Will US strikes provide the great Hollywood reset?

Hollywood’s fatal attraction to reboots

Why Hollywood’s C-suite shouldn’t be biting the hand that feeds it

In the long run… I’ll always love a limited series

Arrested’s Anthony Kimble on staying nimble in a rocky market

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