I Will Not Read Your F–king Script, Part 2

Yesterday, I talked about how Josh Olson wrote a great piece explaining why he won't reading your script…and that, on the same day that I read his article, I had an experience that proved him right. Here's what happened. A stranger wrote me:

I have a great idea for a TV series…oops, you've heard that a million times. But really I do. Can I send you the Treatment I have written and get some help pitching it?

I replied:

Nope. (And you are the 27th person to ask me that today. No kidding. And the day isn't over yet).

…and I sent him a link to Olson's piece. And within minutes, he was twittering things like this:

Sick of arrogant TV writers who write crap that we have to watch on TV.

And this:

I am talking about Lee Goldberg…what a f'n snob…and he sucks.

Today, he sent me this note:

I joined Facebook in part, my arrogant friend, to sell my book and to network. That is what Facebook is for in part, as well as reconnecting with family and old friends. Therefore, I reached out to you to network. But like the arrogant prick you are, instead of simply saying no thanks, or ignoring my request, you slap me around as if I was a moron. I had a bad day yesterday, involving one of my children, and didn't need your snotty lecture. So go away. I get your drift. You got lucky and think you are somebody now. But know this, my arrogant friend, what you dish out to the world comes back to you.

And the replies from his friends to his twitters reflected a similar point-of-view:

fuck Lee Goldberg and his arrogance. He lives in a phony world of recycling idiot ideas. Perhaps I'm missing something, but has any Hollywood writer *lately* managed to write a good work of fiction? I dunno, perhaps Lee Goldberg has some sort of defense for that episode of "She Spies" that he helped write in committee.

And this from the guy who initially wrote me:

What does Lee Goldberg write – that Monk nonsense? That's why I spend the evening (when not writing or reading) flipping through the numbing crap on TV that is written by the arrogant "professionals" full of themselves that they can't mentor a struggling author along.

Of course, he thought well enough of me to hit me up to read his stuff…I became an arrogant asshole and author of mind-numbing crap after I said no.

I am stunned by the arrogance of these people, telling me that my professional success isn't the result of talent or hard work, but rather it is some kind of entitlement. And that by not reading their work, or listening to their ideas, or coaching them on pitching, I am an asshole. My time is their time to do with as they please. They also assume that I am not interested in helping anyone else achieve what I have.

These jerks know nothing about me, or the time and effort I devote to sharing my experience with others. They don't know about the many days I spend each year teaching TV writing, giving seminars, or speaking about writing at high schools, universities, conferences, and libraries locally, nationwide and around the world, mostly for free. 

In the last six weeks, for example, I spent seven days at the International Mystery Writers Festivalin Owensboro, Kentucky teaching, speaking, and moderating seminars on tv and mystery writing to the public. At no charge. I taught a three-hour course on TV writing to students at Cal State Northridge. At no charge. And I spent a day giving a seminar on TV writing to a delegation from China Central Television.

But what I didn't do is drop everything in my life to read some stranger's treatment, listen to his idea for a TV series, and coach him on how to pitch. 

So obviously I am an arrogant, talentless, asshole.

I have committed the unforgiveable sin of deciding how to use my time and how best to give back to others. And not letting some stranger decide for me. 

So, when it comes to this guy and all those outraged, wanna-be writers who they think own me and my time, I think Josh Olson really nailed it when he said:

I will not read your fucking script.

UPDATE 9-11-09: The pissed off stranger who wanted me to read his treatment has responded. What follows is his email to me, verbatim, minus the title and link to his self-published "manifesto" on new belief system that will revolutionize society.

Blah, blah, blah. Whippy shit. Whining ahole. If you spent all the time trashing me trying to help me instead, we might both have a better feeling about you. Doth protest too much, my friend. You have a guilty conscience as you should. Hard work, my ass, you got lucky, friend, pure and simple. Given the chance, I would write you off the page.

And look who's talking about people skills. All you had to do numbnut, was ignore me, or give me a website where to send my treatment, an address, something. Instead, you bastard, you give me a snide, insensitive stupid article. And a bunch of messages that are just pure mean-spirited. I might be dying of cancer or have a kid dying of cancer, but you don't care.

Who says I want to succeed in Hollywood anyway – if it's populated by untalented, arrogant mean-spirited likes of you, I don't need it. It will be TV's loss not to have my treatment.

Read my book, XYZ

Know what it says, you strunes – death is the only reality. I will certainly see you at some point there, in some afterlife. And maybe I'll buy you a beer, and then again, maybe I won't.

44 thoughts on “I Will Not Read Your F–king Script, Part 2”

  1. He also seems to be a little unclear on the concept of “networking.” Or at least “networking effectively.” It doesn’t mean just getting the name of someone you think can help you and demanding help from them, it’s about building relationships with a variety of people, who you like and who like you, and sharing knowledge and support between yourselves. It’s why I think the best networking is done between peers, before any of you are successful.

  2. Thanks for writing this, Lee. Contrary to popular belief, very few writers “make it” by jumping out of the bushes and cajoling some soft-hearted insider to read his or her screenplay.

  3. dude – enough. why are you wasting your breath.
    you’re totally getting pissed off at people and you sound like you have to defend yourself against any random Joe Schmoe on the internet.
    Dude – you have written for TV, film and books – you have success – you’re now starting to feel like Jay and Silent Bob who feel the urge to beat every internet spam trash talker out there.
    I say this to help us all from seeing anymore posts like this one:
    It’s ok. We know you are successful. Let people say what they want.
    BUT, please, for all our sakes… let is go man.

  4. You have nailed the truth of the matter in its simplest form, Lee. This person felt you were a competent, even good, writer — obviously — because he wanted you to network with and read his script. But because you can’t find the time to do that for someone you do not know, he condemns you and has his friends pile on. I’m quite sure this person finds breaking in frustrating. We all did. And many writers have a very hard time staying in even when they get in. I’ll probably get hate mail from this person, too, but if he is reading this, I’d ask him to take a deep breath and really think this thing through and step back. My message is:
    You actually owe Lee an apology for your rudeness. Man up and give it.

  5. I’m not even famous for what I do, I just happen to work in entertainment doing coverage and notes on scripts, and yet you’d be surprised (well maybe you wouldn’t, but it never ceases to amaze ME) how many people feel totally comfortable asking me if I’ll read their (first or second, i.e. CRAPPY) script, as soon as they hear what I do! It’s amazing. My neighbor is a dentist and I don’t ask him for free teeth cleanings, you know? I mean, come on. Anyway, my point here is that I feel you, Lee. Don’t let them get you down! Stay strong!

  6. Man, I hope this nitwit didn’t get to you like it sounds like he might have πŸ™
    Trust me, you don’t need to be as successful as you to be a target for those that would cheerfully waste your time.
    It’s the same all over.
    Be well.

  7. I commented negatively about Olson’s letter because I think truth doesn’t excuse arrogance. One can refuse and not give back all one wants. And people can be pushy and ignorant, but that, I feel, doesn’t excuse one’s behavior. I am, I know, in the minority.

  8. Pity that civility wasn’t one of this man’s many so called talents. There is enough rudeness in the world without adding to it. Writing should be for the simple joy of it. If you can make a living out of it, good for you. If you can’t, you are still doing something you love. That, in itself, should be it’s own reward.

  9. I cannot believe the gall some people have. These nuggets who decide that professional screenwriters are a load of crap for not accepting their scripts are clearly not cut out for the job. And with that kind of attitude they show for being criticized or rejected, they will continue to receive many more “NO”s in the future.

  10. Wow, Lee. I wrote a rather long-winded blog post about Josh’s piece and I have to say, I can be fairly generous about helping out because, in general, I’ve been treated well by the people who ask. But you’re apparently running some sort of halfway house for the mentally ill. Sorry, Lee, that really sucks. If I got ranters like that I’d be saying “I won’t read your fucking manuscript” too.

  11. The reason why we talk about people like Lee’s friend is that he provides an object lesson for others.
    There’s no hope for him. His sense of entitlement is too wrapped up in his ego for him to consider that he might be wrong. I suspect, so long as you don’t challenge him in person, that he’s probably a nice guy. But press to far and he’ll turn on you.

  12. One of the most important roles successful people serve in society, is to give losers a focus for their bile when the boil of their overweening sense of their own “talent” erupts into a oozing, enraged mass of frustrated entitlement. It’s what these people are, it’s what they do. They will never forgive you for achieving something that they are not capable of achieving themselves.

  13. I’ve gotta give this genius credit, though, for coining the word “strunes.” I have no idea what it means, but I’ll be using it to insult those who are beneath me in the future. “Bow to me, Strunes!” Genius, pure genius.

  14. OK, so some random internet stranger asks you to read his treatment. You reply that you won’t, and that he’s the 27th person to ask that day. You then proceed to send him a link to a vitriolic rant titled “I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script”. And then you’re surprised at being called an arrogant prick? Wow.

  15. I read a book geared toward unpublished authors this weekend, and in two separate chapters, the author advises the unpublished to choose a published author and send him some of his work to read.
    The author of this, oh so helpful, book was in the publishing industry.
    I just tell people that I promised my agent that I would never read anything unless it was sent by her. Oh, and that I would never divulge her name.

  16. Mr. Goldberg, your blog is on my blogroll and I admire your work. That said, I think you are off-base in relation to this particular article for all the reasons I stated at http://unsuitablegirls.wordpress.com. There are so many ways to say the same thing. This industry is hard enough without having to resort to cursing, insulting, and plain rudeness. Someone asks, you say no. ‘I’m too busy.’ That’s that. What else needs to be proven? And who knows: some newbie may be someone you’d want to connect with on a future project. Networking and expanding one’s own craft can be exciting.

  17. You know what would be funny? If you referred this so called scribe to a producer. And the producer completely ripped the script and the writing. Sort of a Hannibal Lecter torment. The scribe cries, goes home and never writes again. That ought to shut ’em up.

  18. Yesterday it’s Olsen’s piece. Today it’s Lee and John Scalzi. By tomorrow, every other writer with a blog will have a “No, I won’t read your book/script/etc” post.
    Amisha, these authors (and many many others) have already done the “I’m too busy” or even “Sorry, I don’t do that because of X” path. The reasonable requestors will take that to heart. It’s the unreasonable and self-entitled who go nuts over this who cause the “No I won’t read your fucking book/script” type posts.

  19. We have the same problem in the software biz too, but usually they want me to fix their virus laden computer or build a website for them.
    I mean really, how hard can it be to build a web site?
    BTW, I’m the asshole that won’t fix your computer, or build your web site. At least not unless you have some really cool stuff to barter.

  20. The thing about people like that and their ranting responses is that they always make you so deeply glad you didn’t waste your time helping them.

  21. I replied:
    Nope. (And you are the 27th person to ask me that today. No kidding. And the day isn’t over yet).
    …and I sent him a link to Olson’s piece.
    (jaw drop)
    Wow. Don’t writers have to be aware of, like, other interpretations that can be taken from a text? Like when you get too many “he” pronouns in a sentence and the readers can’t tell what happened when your gunfight scene ends with “he killed him”?
    You think maybe Olsen’s “No I won’t read your script”, written in second person “you”, might have been read in a literal “your fucking script” interpretation? Rather than in a, oh, I don’t know, a “look how funny Olsen is being by *pretending* to be an offended, snobbish, arrogant, insulting writer”?
    Maybe it came across to this guy as a real, offended, snobbish, arrogant, insulting writer?
    You blog about this as if it somehow proves something, like, maybe Olsen is right how everyone who asks for a read is an asshole when you say no. All this proves is when a guy asks for a read, and you say no and link to a curse-filled attack by Olsen directed at the reader (the guy asking for the reading), you get a pissed of guy in response.
    You got 27 requests today for readings? What is your usual percentage that come back angry at you when you just say no? Try a little experiment. Tomorrow, send all your requests for readings a link to Olsen’s script like you did this guy and see how many of them take it the wrong way.
    Or, if you want something more direct, next time your wife asks you if her dress makes her look fat, tell her it’s the fat that makes her look fat.
    Then blog about her response and how it “proves” something other than how horribly you responded to her.

  22. Jeebus. As someone who self-identifies as an emerging author (some success on the playwriting side, working on a novel), this email is an embarassment. That email is… that’s insane, Lee. You got attacked by a person who’s full of the crazy. You DON’T RANDOMLY CONTACT SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW and ask them for a detailed critique that will take multiple hours of work, for free.
    “All you had to do was… give me a website where to send my treatment, an address, something.”
    What? Has this person ever heard of the Hollywood Creative Directory? Or research? And a *treatment*? You need a PILOT first and foremost. Actually, first you need a SPEC SCRIPT. Multiple specs. Then you work on getting an agent. Oy. Too much stupid, too much crazy.
    “It will be TV’s loss not to have my treatment.”
    Oh yes. Terrible loss. Shame about that, really.

  23. I don’t think there is anything, polite or otherwise, that you could have said that would not have sent this dickhead off the deep end.
    I think your work is great. I watch very little TV but your stuff is part of the moiety I actually enjoy.
    As for defending yourself by citing the amount of time and effort you give back to the community, there’s no need. Even if you did nothing at all, you have an absolute right to turn down people who ask favours. We all do. Still, it’s nice to hear that you’ve been so generous.

  24. I’m so sorry you had to go through that (and btw, I absolutely love Monk; so sorry to see it go). Monk is a great and unexpected character. In fact, just watched a rerun the other night. Anyway, let it go. He’s not worth it. Did you write “Diagnoses Murder,” too? I watched that all the time when it was on…yeah, the writer of those nasty notes really does know how to burn bridges! Keep up the good work!

  25. What some posters don’t seem to be getting is this:
    Lee, like Josh Olson, was in a no-win situation.
    1. Say no, you’re a dick.
    2. Say yes, tell the truth, you’re a dick.
    When these amateurs contact a successful near-stranger and ask for a favor, what they really want you to do is “make me famous.” Anything short of that will make you a dick.
    I see nothing wrong with Lee’s original response to the person. Nothing would have made the asker feel better.
    Aside: I love the appeals to pity “My child might be dying of cancer!” You know what? Some children really are. And that doesn’t make Lee owe them any of his time.

  26. Back in the day when I read scripts for producers, some intern gave some rejected writer my HOME PHONE NUMBER. I’m a girl and a Southerner, so I tried to be nice.
    Upside: Monk is/was? a great show, but I don’t have a TV. Happy happy to see Monk has books. Yay!

  27. as a former script reader at a studio people ask me all the time to read scripts…I am NOBODY…so I can only imagine how bad it is for someone with STATUS…I simply say I can’t for legal reasons, that if I read it and reject it, and later the studio makes a movie like it, I’ll get in trouble. When they offer to sign a wavier (this only happens 10% of the time), I tell them that I can’t accept a wavier unless they are sent one that the studio officially uses, and they have to request it. I have yet to hear from anyone who asked for a wavier. But yes it does suck to have your car egged because you wouldn’t read a guy’s script. But the “no for legal reasons” usually works, at least for me.

  28. It’s pretty obvious the initial requester has some issues. To be fair, your initial response was actually fairly dickish and certainly didn’t have the good natured intent Josh Olson’s story seemed to have.
    You lose moral high ground over dicks when you outwardly treat them as such.

  29. Lee
    Way to go! This guy is a jerk! I am on the low end of the Hollywood totem pole and I get bombarded with read my screenplay requests. Here are some of my stories and the advice i give out to the people I should say I ain’t reading your fn screenplay!
    The advice that I give that few take is this. I send the below to unsolicited folks and even friends!
    “Writing a screenplay that is commercially viable is hard. There are 20,000 active wga members in Hollywood who have script writing credits and who are working at their craft, so how does an unknown break into that group? You outline and write a screenplay. But what you do is take the best 5-10 minutes of that screenplay, if it exists, and self produce a short. This way if you are at a film festival and a producer asks to see you full length you have it. (I have 2 stories about this. 161 things I didn’t learn in film school ( i think that is the title) tells a story of a USC film student who wrote a Blue Ribbon winning sundance short. Producers were all over him and asked him if they could read his feature. He didn’t have one and at the fear of thinking they would not talk to him further he told them he did. They said send it to them. He went home and wrote a shitty screenplay in a week or so and they never talked to him again. Second writer of Napoleon Dynamite wrote full length of the movie but made a short of the best 10 minutes that showcase his writing of dialog and comedy, won awards and producers gave him money to finish full length.)
    Or start by writing successful short screenplays its those moments that eventually lead to being able to connect scene to scene so maybe you can create a coherent and viable product.
    At the end of the day however, it is easier to win the lottery than to get your screenplay produced in Hollywood. I worked with a 6 time academy award nominee, who could not get green light for his movie for several years. The movie was fially green lit and was nominated for best screenplay. Imagine that 6 time academy award nominee who cannot get green light. And you are?
    If it is purely a story driven non action movie then you might be able to self produce.
    I have so many stories of people coming to me about how they want to write a screenplay. It’s like they think it is easy! Over the past 5 years I have gotten screnplays from the wives of people I played tennis with, (sucked) mom’s whose brothers wrote a script, it was okay but he wanted Dennis Leary to star in it. I told her if he did his research he would know leary has a writing partner and ain’t gonna read it unless his agent tells him to. How do I get to his agent? get an agent!
    I was at a wedding 2 years ago, guy says his kid just graduated with screen writing degree, and he wrote a whole tv series of about 30 episodes to send to networks. i read it, it was an irish mob show. NBC had just cancelled the Donnelly’s after 4 episodes, it was an Irish mob show. I talked to the kid, I said no network will touch this since it failed on another, that is the way it works. He ignored me. Then he sends me an email about a year later telling me his teacher, who he wrote this series in his class, said he has a friend in hollywood who he would send his series to. The teacher had said he had connections ( I guess he didn’t have them 3 years earlier when he was teaching him and told him his scripts were the bomb diggity?). The friend who he was sending series to was apparently a laid off tv exec going out on his own, in other words he had no job prospects and said I am so smart I will start my own company.
    I told this young man the same thing I wrote above, write a short, get your college friends to produce it and create a calling card.
    Didn’t hear from the kid for a year as he figured no need to talk to this guy giving me the tortise and the hare advice i am brilliant the people in hollywood will love me.
    About 6 months ago, he sends me an email asking me if I would read his latest script. I wrote back and asked him what happened to the great hollywood connection you sent your scripts to? He never responded. Do you think I will respond, fuck no I gave him advice and he pissed on me!
    some links of how not to approach biz people: ( I have now added yours)
    I met with a woman last year, read her script and told her she had no clue how to write, so I took the best scene and rewrote it for her. This is one not bright woman, she recently posted on Facebook that she sent it in for a short screenplay contest. She used the title I gave it! As a result I have a hard time helping people and I applaud you for what you said to this guy.
    My question to him, if hollywood is full of arrogant hacks why is he trying to hard to become one?


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