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Marcus writes...

Hey, Greg! I love what you've done with Spectacular Spider-Man. The the best show ever. The 90s show compared to yours is nothing. This show rules!! Here's my question:
Every season in Spectacular Spider-Man has 4 arcs. Each arc is 3 or 4 episodes. You were involed in "The Batman" but you weren't the main director. If you were the main director and producer of "The Batman" when it was first planned, would you have done the same thing you did to Spectacular Spider-Man (having 4 arcs per season)?

Greg responds...

I'm not a director at all. (Well, I've been a voice director, but I'm guessing that's not what you're talking about.)

What you seem to be talking about is me being a writer-producer. But no series exists in a vacuum. The arcs weren't my idea on Spec Spidey -- they were part of my marching orders -- though I took to the notion like a duck to water.

Regular readers of Ask Greg know I'm not too fond of hypothetical questions, but asking me about The Batman in this context is just... well... a hypothetical that borders on the silly. (Sorry.) There are too many unknown factors for me to evaluate. But since clearly the producers of The Batman had no such marching orders, the odds are slim that we would have taken that approach.

Response recorded on August 06, 2009

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Ming writes...

So, Greg, just out of sure curiosity, have you ever felt there was a whole conspiracy against the Gargoyles series at Disney? I mean, judging from Disney's actions, it was like they wanted the series to fail?

Greg responds...

As I've said many times before, that's SO far from the truth it's beyond preposterous.

They made 78 episodes before RATINGS caused them to cancel the series.

Response recorded on July 29, 2009

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Harlan Phoenix writes...

So, I'm curious about something involving the early development of Gargoyles...particularly, the pitching process. I'm not exactly sure how to word this, as my knowledge of how the process of actually pitching a show works, but I'll try my best.

Listening to commentary on Awakening recently and browsing the Archives revealed that you had pitched Gargoyles multiple times: First as a comedy, then as an action show. What intrigues me in particular is the fact that the show had multiple pitches over the course of however long (the amount of time escapes me, sorry).

1. Are repeated pitching sessions common for television shows?

2. On what basis are pitches repeated (after being tweaked)? Positive notes from executives, faith in the concept, a combination?

3. Has the environment for pitching become stricter? As in, are concepts expected to be marketable/viable in one try or are multiple pitching attempts on the same concept still possible?

I apologize if these aren't worded all that correctly, it's just something I find very puzzling and I'm not entirely sure how to word my questions.

Greg responds...

1. Sometimes, although more often if a show doesn't sell the first time out it dies. But often enough, a creator will keep trying variations until he or she sells their idea... or runs out of people to sell it to.

2. All of the above, plus a smidgen of desperation.

3. See above. Nothing's really changed, though it's definitely tougher to sell an original idea now than it was back then.

Response recorded on July 21, 2009

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gary writes...

i would like to say thank you for creating the best superhero animated series of all time...second, this is a question, i know you can't and won't reveal any future plans for the series but can you answer this, i know fox had a hellofalot things the 90's series couldn'y do like punch...PUNCH, obviously this series doesnt have as much problems but, finally my question, is carnage to dark for the series, along with morbius biting people, and how about the death of gwen and george stacey stories? thanks

Greg responds...

I don't know any way to answer this without making it sound like hints toward future plans.

So just talking about S&P in general, the situation shifts and changes all the time, depending on everything from the network and its current strategy and target audience to the individual giving notes -- but most of all depending on how any given thing is handled by the writers and board artists. Ultimately, it's all about execution.

Response recorded on July 15, 2009

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cboy305 writes...

When recording voices for animation, must all actors record voices in the same studio?

Greg responds...

It's not an absolute, but we like it both for reasons of actor chemistry and because it's easier on our budget.

Response recorded on July 09, 2009

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David Blyth writes...

Hi Mr. Wiesman

As a folllow-on from something asked of you by "Anonymous" on the issue of growth and evolution in Spider-Man , I would like to, first, argue that the Spider-Man series you have been working on isnt "pinned down" by the problems the comic version of Spidey faces. You have placed Peter, MJ, Gwen, Harry and others into the most innocent kind of "hell" on Earth, High School.

Long before girls fell off bridges, long before clones and long before Peter realized MJ was the love of his life and married her, you don't have to worry about "resetting" there because that only affects the characters outside of High School...where readers expect them to act grown up and responsible for one another, and when they act like rank adolescents as they do in BND (my opinion), or heck, ever since the last ten years worth (Spidey's never recovered since 1999, again, my opinion)

Spider-Girl has now been running for eleven years, with another good few years left in the tank (I don't know how long Tom intends to tell it, right now the word is "indefinatly"), yet Tom recently admited if he so much as fought for an animated series, he'd be shot down. I find this incredibly tragic and disheartening.

And yet...look at what D.C accomplished ten years ago with Batman Beyond.

Terry McGuiness may only have had the golden rule of syndication ("Get 65 and DIE") one movie, and one episode of JLU, but it says a great deal about the higher-ups at WB to risk three years worth on character growth on someone new, whilst balancing that with remarkable doses of growth for Bruce Wayne and Barbera Gordon to that extent than, say, three more years of "The New Batman Adventures"

Hell, let's argue LOONATICS. Done CORRECTLY, this would have made Loony Toon characters DRAMATIC...key word there is "done correctly" of course, but premises like that are ones any writer can eat up with a spoon...again, WB risked it, suceed or fail.

Likewise you have put a lot of risk into Spectacular Spider-Man that has paid off, so maybe it's not a case of marketers being afraid of "growth and change", maybe it's more a case of certain groups being behind the times and just not living in the here and now.

Time will tell. Right now, I like to think those people KNOW that we need something new. Nothing lasts forever.

Not even the relevancy of the "Modern Myth".

My question: Why is it easier for something like Batman Beyond to be favoured over something like Spider-Girl?

Greg responds...

No idea. Not even sure that's true, frankly.

The thing to keep in mind is that the business is fluid and NOT monolithic. Things change. There's much human turnover, and with that turnover comes changes in direction at every studio and every network. What the RULES are this week may not be the rules in six months time.

I've often said we'd NEVER have gotten Gargoyles on the air today, and that's true TODAY. But tomorrow is a whole other story.

Maybe Batman Beyond hit at the right studio and the right network at the right time.

Spider-Girl's situation is complicated by the fact that Marvel and Sony co-control the Spider-Man license. I'd guess (and it's ONLY a guess) that Marvel views Spider-Girl as a separate property. And I'd guess Sony views it as part of the Spider-Man license... and that disagreement (assuming it exists and/or has EVER even come up) would obviously be a roadblock to making a Spider-Girl series.

In any case, you give me credit for taking risks that I don't really think I deserve. Sony and Marvel came to me and ASKED me to do a Spider-Man series set in his High School years that was not in continuity with the movies or the current comics or Ultimate or anything. That's all they gave me, but that fit perfectly with what I wanted to do with the character. And given the fact that Spidey is one of the top marquis characters in the known universe, it wasn't exactly a risky proposition.

I like to think we executed well, but let's face it -- ANY Spidey show would do pretty well just by virtue of it being Spidey. I can't exactly take credit for the character's popularity. All I can do is strive to do him justice. It's for others to judge if we succeeded, though we succeeded well enough to satisfy me. I'm biased, of course, but my standards are pretty high.

Response recorded on July 07, 2009

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Bazell writes...

Sometimes when I write, I worry about how much specific influence other similar media has on what I'm working on. As a student and literary lover, I am well aware of the dangers of plagerism and feel very sensitive to it, but I worry about unitentionally drawing too much from source material in fiction writing. For example, if I was working on a story about a vampire, I would worry about how much I'm being influenced by, say, Interview With the Vampire, which is a personal favorite novel and series. It's important for ideas to be new and fresh, even if they cover subject matter already used in the past.
Like you, I produce what I'd like to consume, so how do you avoid copying your favorites? Any sagely advice?

Otherwise, also want you to know that I impressed upon my local comic shop the sheer importance of my obtaining the two trades coming out this summer. I talked up the series, of which he was alredy a similarly disappointed fan. Both trades are on my pull-list.

Greg responds...

I don't have a set of guidelines for you. I try to feel my way through it, I guess. If I am going to "lift", I try to be direct and on the head about it, so that I'm acknowledging the debt as opposed to trying to get away with something. But I also avoid seeing/reading newer interpretations of stuff I know I plan to write about. And as much as possible I stick with "source material," i.e. things in the public domain.

Response recorded on June 30, 2009

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David B. Jacobs writes...

Hey, Greg!
I've got for you a very in-depth question: How did you get to where you are today? What kinds of steps did you take? If you could give specifics, I'd be quite happy.
You see, I myself would love to go into the business of TV and film, and I frequently identify myself with you (in a non-creepy way - I mean regarding style and that kind of stuff).
Thanks!

Greg responds...

I've answered this in depth and with specifics before. Check the archives for a more detailed answer.

Generally, I'd say the first things you need to do, if you haven't already are...

1. Finish your formal education.

2. Move to Los Angeles.

3. Read, write and proofread a lot. Practice. Learn that your first draft may suck, and that even your second draft may need shelving.

As for my specifics...

*Bachelors from Stanford in English with a Fiction Writing emphasis.
*Started working as a writer for DC Comics as a 19-year-old while still in college.
*Moved to New York to work in comics, cuz that's where THAT action was.
*Masters from U.S.C in Professional Writing with an emphasis in playwriting.
*Staff Assistant at Disney Television Animation.
*Eventually promoted to Director of Series Development.
*Developed Gargoyles and moved sideways to produce it.

Etc.

Response recorded on June 29, 2009

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Fred M. writes...

I have watched the first two seasons of Spectacular Spider-man and absolutely love them! I think the thing I appreciate the most is the fact my 3 yr old son and I can watch them with both of us being entertained. We can share that experience and take completely different things from the episode. Kudos for walking that tightrope. With the series moving to Disney XD I have a few questions. 1) How does the ratings thing work? We record and watch every episode that comes on and would LOVE for that to be counted as credit for you guys. I want to do whatever I can to ensure a third and forth season. 2) Is there somewhere or someone we can contact and/or email with our support for this series? I would hate for it to not get picked up. Keep up the good work if you get the opportunity!!

Greg responds...

Thanks. I'm glad you and your son both enjoy the show. That was the intent, for there to be something for kids and adults without short-changing either demographic.

1. Unless you are a Nielson household, your personal viewing is not specifically counted, but IN THEORY if you and your kid are watching and a bunch of other folks like you are watching with their kids, then the odds are some Nielson family just like yours is mirroring your collective behavior and that DOES count in the ratings. It has to do with statistics, and I don't pretend to understand it really -- or even fully buy into it. But that's how it works. Again, IN THEORY, if you stop viewing the show it suggests that somewhere some Nielson family just like you has also stopped. So DON'T STOP!!!

2. You can try to contact Disney XD through their website or write a letter to them. It can't hurt.

Response recorded on June 05, 2009

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I writes...

Hello,
How much does it cost to commission or create a series or season and how does that work?
sorry for my ignorance and ambiguity,
Me.

Greg responds...

Um... costs really vary. A lot depends on the mode of production, the development budget, etc.

Episodic costs on Gargoyles averaged about $450K per episode, at least for the first 65 episodes. (I have no idea what the final budget was for Goliath Chronicles, but I imagine it was considerably less.) And those per episode costs do NOT include development costs, marketing costs, etc. So making a series is a VERY expensive prospect, which is why we need/put up with studios, networks and the like.

Response recorded on June 05, 2009


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