In addition to running TNBC scripts through her FCC-friendly laundry list of do’s and dont’s, Hill Scott also assists in organizing an annual writers’ symposium attended by anyone with a hand in the Engel creative pot. The one-day workshop is designed to impart enlightening info about the oscillating teen world-helpful tips that can then be transformed into realistic and timely fodder for the upcoming season’s story lines.
Held in February, the seminar invites guests ranging from teens themselves, to school principals, to basketball coaches, to health officials, to MTV’s `sex-pert’ Dr. Drew-essentially anyone who lives, works or interacts alongside teens and who can speak to what they are currently saying, dissing, watching, tasting, listening to. . . .you get the point. The key word here is `currently,’ and it can act as both a writer’s friend or foe. Incorporating timely teen trends into story lines can either pepper plots with a hip undertone, or lead to the quick thumbs-down.
Todd Greenwald, supervising producer on City Guys, agrees. Since some shows are penned up to a year in advance, centering an episode on the issue of the month may date subject matter by the time the show actually airs. Airing a segment based on a passé band or incorporating a slew of outdated `slanguage’ can shift you to the other end of the cool spectrum faster than you can say gnarly or radical.
A cool topic with teens can act as a needed vehicle to communicate a deeper message. Last year’s symposium focused largely on the burgeoning trend of extreme sports at the suggestion of NBC execs gearing up to broadcast the X-Games. Guests that included extreme cyclist `Biker’ Sherlock shared insight on the extreme world that has influenced story lines for City Guys and the upcoming Saved By the Bell: 2K, in which one of the main characters is an extreme sports champ. A City Guys episode, entitled ‘Extreme Eugene,’ centers on a character who is already a member of a basketball team, but discovers that he is also very adept at the extreme side of sports.