I got this very long email from someone who would like NCIS to do an episode about something she experienced as an employee on a cruise ship. It read, in small part:
I'm sure that you get emails like this all the time. I have an idea for an episode of NCIS. I have been searching around the internet trying to figure out how to actually make this happen, and I came across your website. Before you read this, you should know that I am a very. persistant person. […]I used to work onboard a cruise ship. In a nutshell, I witnessed something bad happen in December 2007 at the hands of my boss, my boss's boss, and the onboard Human Resources manager. I tried to report it to someone I thought I could trust, but I apparently trusted the wrong person. She forwarded my emails in its entirety to the gentlemen that I had named, and then things got REALLY bad. I wish they just fired me (I actually resigned), but it was much worse than that. To make a long story short…
She didn't make it short…or comprehensible. She went on for another few thousand words and I still don't understand what happened or if it was even a crime. She went on and on to say, in part:
I would like to pitch the story idea to a writer to create an episode for NCIS. People should be aware of what goes on, and that it can be unsafe in international waters. […]And to answer you next question, which I presume is "Why would the NCIS team investigate something on a cruise ship", I figure that the husband character could have been a former Marine (many cruise ship employees are)[…]Can you help point me in the right direction? I'd like to see the story told. To prove to you that I am not a crazy person, I work for a prestigious film festival.
I was skeptical about her, but once she said she worked at a prestigious film festival, I knew she was cool because nobody unstable, or with unrealistic expectations about the TV business, ever work for film festivals.
I have no interest in selling the story — I don't need, nor want, any money for it. And I'm not crazy enough to think that I would actually write the script. I am very good at what I do, but writing is not what I do. But I do know that the screenwriters get their ideas from somewhere — so I guess what I need is for one of the decision makers to be stumped for story ideas one day, and turn to my story for inspiration.
She vowed to press on and not be discouraged. I thought about writing her back and saying that there's a reason that they say that the stories on shows like LAW AND ORDER, NCIS, and CSI are "ripped from the headlines." Because that's where they get their inspiration, from the news, not from people sending in their personal stories of crime and conspiracy (if that is, indeed, what her story is about). But I decided to let it drop.