Are There Rules to Writing? This Oscar Winner Thinks So.

One of the many awesome things about the internet is that you can learn how to do anything or learn how to improve something you already know how to do by tossing a few keystrokes into Google.

There are free videos galore on YouTube (Did you know that “how to” vids on YouTube get 4x the views of animal videos?), as well as tons of paid learning opportunities from colleges, experts on any subject, and more.

My staff and I have studied on,, and my latest favorite,

Yeah, they cost some money . . . but education on any subject has the best ROI on the planet (I met someone recently who told me they wanted to learn how to speak Spanish, but wouldn’t spend the money to buy an online training course . . . and then the dude told me how he went to Vegas and blew a wad of cash at the Blackjack table. #PrioritiesPeople).

Anyway, I di-grant. (That’s digress and rant smooshed together.)

The most recent course I’ve taken on is a screenwriting class taught by Aaron Sorkin.  No, no, I’m not looking to pen the next Pulp Fiction.  But Aaron is a guy that has written successful plays, successful TV shows and successful movies . . . and that says to me he’s a guy that understands how to tell a story.  And getting better at that will make me a better Producer/Writer/Blogger/Marketer/Anything.

I’m only about halfway through the course, which cost me $90, and already I’ve gotten a whole bunch of truth bombs (as well as some fun West Wing stories).

But my favorite so far was the session I watched yesterday when Aaron talked about the rules of writing.  He preambled that so many artists he runs into think that creating art of any kind is so freeing because there are no “rules.”  On the contrary, he insisted . . .

Rules are what make art beautiful.  Without them, you’re just finger painting.

Is that a Sorkinism or what?

He referenced Aristotle’s Poetics (of course), and I was reminded of my favorite blueprints for writing anything, The Writer’s Journey and Steve Cuden’s Beating Broadway (I liked that book so much, I ‘booked’ Steve for my upcoming conference).

And I agree with Aaron 101%.  And whatever rules Aaron pays attention to, all of the rest of us lay-writers need to pay twice the attention to.

But I will offer one suggestion to free up those who feel restricted by any rules.  Write what you want to write.  If you run into problems, consult the rule books.  Don’t do the reverse.  Writing “by the rules” becomes writing “by the numbers.”

Go.  Write.  And then, if something isn’t working, go back and check your favorite rule book.

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Want to learn more about the rules of writing and get your script in the best shape it can be?  Forget paying a high priced dramaturge.  Learn how to be, as Aaron calls it, “a diagnostician” and diagnose the issues with your script yourself!  I’m teaching a one-hour online course on TheProducersPerspectivePRO next Wed, 9/13/17 at 7 PM on the most common faults I’ve seen in the hundreds of scripts I’ve read and how to address them.  It’s only for PRO members, so click here to join. 

Can’t make it on the 13th?  It’ll be available for viewing “on demand” for all registrants the very next day.

Get more info here.

What George Costanza taught me about marketing.


It’s the stock and amateur of the television industry.  The shows keep running and running on various other networks, long after the original has “closed.”

I caught one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld in syndication last night, and not only did I laugh so hard I had club soda coming through my nose (I’ve given up Coke!), I also got a great reminder of how to come up with a great marketing idea in the 21st Century.

Maybe you’ve seen the episode.  It’s the one where George Costanza (played by Broadway baby and the director of a show I’ve got coming up, Mr. Jason Alexander) realizes that all of his gut instincts are . . . well, wrong . . . and they just keep getting him into trouble.

So, in an effort to change his destiny, he decides to do the opposite of what his brain tells him to do first.

And, wouldn’t you know it, but money, respect, women, and so much more, fall into his lap the moment he rejects his first instinct and goes with the opposite.

The “opposite” exercise is something I do for marketing all the time.  See, first instincts are usually “easy” instincts.  They are at the top of your mind, which generally means they are the road more traveled, and they are what everyone, including your competitors, will do.

When faced with a decision about marketing, or when trying to come up with a unique marketing idea for my shows, I ask myself, “What would my competitors do?” And then I do the opposite.

You can choose to jump on the bandwagon of the common, easy choice . . . and hey, if you’ve got enough marketing dollars or some super-sized brand . . . that might just work.

But if you’re looking to stand out, then Do The Costanza.


Podcast Episode 117 – 4x Tony Nominated Producer Eva Price

I knew right then.

It was, oh, 2005, I think?  We were at the Starbucks on Columbus Circle.  My best buddy had asked me to meet a friend of his who just started producing.  “Sure,” I hadn’t had the Producer title for very long myself, with Prom and Altar Boyz just getting off the ground, so I was happy to meet anyone looking to do the same thing that I was.

The woman that showed up at that ‘Bucks on that fall day was Eva Price.

And I knew in about fifteen seconds that she’d go on to do a lot more than the Off Broadway show she told me about.

And she certainly has.

Eva is one of the youngest Lead Producers on Broadway, having produced shows such as Peter and the StarcatcherColin Quinn’s Long Story Short , A Time to Kill  and others.  She also found a terrific niche for herself (owning a niche is a great strategy, y’all) producing concert events on Broadway like The Four Topps and The Temptations.

She’s also a super prolific Off Broadway Producer (this season’s sensational Small Mouth Sounds was a standout) at a time when most people run screaming into the night when you mentioned the words Off Broadway.

And yeah, if you were jealous when the Alanis Morissette musical was announced this past week, that’s Eva’s.

Eva and I “revived” our Starbucks chat, but this time we recorded it, and we talked about all things including:

  • How being bored in the news business led to a career in producing.
  • Why she’s glad her first show only ran 6 weeks and did NOT succeed.
  • How she raised the very first money she ever raised . . . with a COLD call!
  • The challenge of being a woman in this business . . . and being a woman Producer in this business.
  • What the hardest part was about breaking into the Broadway business . . . you’ll be surprised by the answer.

I’ve done a lot of podcasts now, but this is by far one of the best for those of you just starting out in the business.  Eva came from another business and started with no contacts, no office, and no rich relatives funding her every move.

Learn her lessons by listening today.

Click here for the link to my podcast with Eva!

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Sorry about the sound issues in this podcast. We found the bug and fixed it in later episodes. It gets better, I promise 🙂

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Want to learn how to get your show from the page to the stage? Join my community of theater professionals on TheProducersPerspectivePRO, plus get instant access to 30+ hours of training, monthly newsletters and networking opportunities, producer contact lists, and so much more! To join TheProducersPerspectivePROclick here!


Want to hear the secret to success in the arts . . . or in anything?

Have you ever been lost?

Like you’re on your way to a party . . . or a show . . . or any place you really, really, and I mean really want to get to.

Maybe there’s a special someone at a party who you’ve been dying to see, or it’s a show you’ve had tickets to for months, or you’re on your way to dinner and staaaaarving.

And you’re just lost.

Your GPS isn’t working. Your phone is out of juice. And you keep turning down dark road after dark road, screaming at the God of Directions, “For the love of all that’s holy, I just want to get to where I’m trying to go!”

That was me. Just over ten years ago. But I wasn’t trying to get to a restaurant or a party. I wanted to be a Producer.

See, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to create theater. Period. But I couldn’t figure out how to get from that dark road to my eventual destination.

And it was a really dark road.

I was unemployed. I had one and a half friends. And every time I thought I was taking a turn in the right direction, some giant road block appeared . . . and prevented me from going forward.


I can’t tell you how many times I thought, “Forget this craziness. I quit. I can never be a Producer.”

That half of a friend of mine recommended that I read The Secret . . . you know, that best selling Oprah-recommended book about thinking your way to millions of dollars and fancy cars.

“That’ll get you on the right road,” he said.

So I read it. And tried it. Why not? I’d do anything to get where I wanted to go. And sure, thinking positively made me feel better . . . so I wasn’t screaming anymore. But I was still friggin’ lost!!!

And checks didn’t magically arrive in my mailbox. Tony Awards didn’t manifest on my mantle. And I didn’t stumble upon the next Les Miz. (That’s when my friend told me I wasn’t thinking positively hard enough . . . and now you see why he’s 1/2 a friend.)

That’s when I became obsessed with learning how some people were able to achieve the things they set out to achieve. So I started asking all these successful people I knew (and some I didn’t) to tell me the story of how they got where they were. And I didn’t just ask people in the theater. I asked people from every industry. I was on a mission to find the “directions” to success.

I talked to Tony winners, multi-millionaire real estate investors, hedge fund dudes, a world champion poker player, one of the top cancer doctors in the country, a guy featured in The Secret, a recording artist who sold millions of records, and even a Rabbi.

As I talked to all of these people . . . a theme emerged. A commonality. The one reason why every single one of them was a huge success in their chosen field.


That one thing was like a North Star to me, and when I applied it to my life, it instantly put me on the path that landed me typing to you this very day . . . sitting in a desk in my very own office with my name on the door . . . a far cry from working out of my bedroom in my apartment.

And yeah, there are some awards on the mantle now, and I even get checks in my mailbox . . . but you know what’s even better? I’m doing exactly what I so wanted to do more than a decade ago . . . produce theater. I’ve got the “job” I dreamed about (if you can call it a job . . . I call myself a professional hobbyist since I get to wake up every morning and work on something I’d work on for nothing).

And the thing is . . . you can too.

If you’ve imagined being a Producer or a Writer . . . an Actor or a Director . . . or a real estate investor, hedge fund dude, or even a world champion poker player . . . you can do it, as long as you have the right directions.

And I’d like to share those directions with you . . . the directions that took me years to gather, but the directions that are without a doubt responsible for getting me where I am today . . . and more importantly, will be 101% responsible for where I want to be tomorrow.

And I know that they can do the same for you.

On Tuesday, February 23rd at 7 PM ET, for the first time ever, I’m going to share the secrets of my success (and the success of all those folks I talked to) in a one hour Teleseminar called “HOW TO SUCCEED IN THE ARTS . . . OR IN ANYTHING.”

I’d love for you to join me.

Can’t make it on February 23rd? Don’t worry . . . the Teleseminar will be recorded and sent to you less than 24 hours later so you can listen in at your convenience (apparently people like listening to me on the treadmill, btw).

I was doing a dry run of this Teleseminar with my own Business Coach the other day, and she advised me to charge a crapload for it because of the potential it can unlock in an individual . . . and, because unlike most of my other stuff, it can be applied to any business, industry, hobby, whatever . . . anything you want to achieve success in. But I didn’t want to charge $500 or even $300 for it, even though the path I’m going to put you on can make you 100x times that . . . and make you happy at the same time, because you’ll be working in the field you love.

All of my Teleseminars are now set at a fixed price of $149, but for this one, I’m doing it for only $97. (Don’t tell my Coach, please.)

I hope you’ll join me. Because, well, I know how frustrating it can be to want to do something, and not being able to find your way to do it. I know that, because I was there. And I promise, no, I guarantee, that after this Teleseminar, you’ll have a specific plan of attack on how to get where you want to go. And if you don’t, I’ll refund that $97 so fast it’ll be like it never left your account.

If you’re someone that wants guaranteed guidance on how to achieve more success in the arts or in anything, then register for the Teleseminar today.

Or, don’t, and just keep driving around hoping you find what you’re looking for.

I’m just not the kind of guy that likes to leave things to luck. And I don’t think you are either.

Join me.

Oh, and FYI, my Teleseminar software can only handle a limited number of callers.  I offered this to subscribers before anyone else, so half of the spots are gone already.  So don’t dawdle, as my Dad used to say.  Register today.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –


– Listen to Podcast Episode #57 with Broadway Presenter Jeff Chelesvig!  Click here.

– Want to learn how to succeed in the arts . . . or anything?  Sign up for my teleseminar on 2/23!  Click here.

– Win 2 tickets to see Shear Madness Off Broadway!  Click here.


Oops! I did it . . . and don’t want to do it again. A panel!

Face it.

If you do anything in this business, or in any business, you’re eventually going to #@$% up.

It’s going to happen.  You’re going to make a boo-boo.  So get used to it.

Now, what separates the successful men and women from the unsuccessful boys and girls is what you do after you make said boo-boo.

Because the real pros learn from their mistakes to make sure they never make the same ones again.  Ever.

This essential educational process is the subject of the Off Broadway Alliance’s latest panel discussion, scheduled for this Sunday, February 7th at noon.  It’s called “WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY OOPS,” or “Sure we all have things not go as planned, but here is what I learned so you don’t have to repeat it.”

The Broadway and Off-Broadway speakers/mistake makers will include Robert Ahrens (Xanadu, Evita, and the upcoming Disaster!), Sharon Fallon (NYMF, Beautiful, Matilda the Musical and the upcoming Gotta Dance), Martin Platt (Dames at Sea, My Life as a Musical, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and Tom Smedes (The Visit, Peter and the Starcatcher, Naked Boys Singing, and the upcoming Bandstand).

(Side note:  it takes a super confident and secure Producer to be able to address any missteps they’ve made, so kudos to the folks above for being willing to open up about their experiences so that others may learn from them.  This kind of panel is kind of like allowing your body to be used for science . . . and being awake while it happens.)

The panel is free. All that you have to do to attend is register here.

The panel will take place at the former Snapple Center (now The Theater Center) at 210 West 50th St. with complimentary coffee and bagels when the doors open at 11:30am and networking time immediately after.

My big mistake?  Or one of them?

I’ll never forget on my very first show having an audience of about 150. . . and only about 15 people paying (it was the second preview).  A group of 20 wanted to come, but they wanted a better seat location for the price that we were quoting.  I held firm.  “Prices are prices and that’s it!  Take it or leave it!”  They left it . . . and I could have more than doubled my gross for that performance . . . at a time when I desperately needed the cash and more importantly needed the paid people to spread positive word of mouth (WOM from comps is much less valuable than WOM from people who actually pay, no matter what price they pay).

I learned that at the launch of any product, including shows, you have to be willing to be more aggressive to get butts in seats, especially on unknown shows without lots of advertising dollars.

That was just one of my mistakes.  I make a lot of them . . . every single day.

I just try to make more right decisions than wrong ones, so I’ll come out on top in the end.

Click here to attend the panel.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –


– Listen to Podcast Episode #57 with Broadway Presenter Jeff Chelesvig!  Click here.

– Want to learn how to succeed in the arts . . . or anything?  Sign up for my teleseminar on 2/23!  Click here.

– Win 2 tickets to see Shear Madness Off Broadway!  Click here.