Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Lesson about Show Biz from TED

In the movies, the director can fire the writer. In TV, it's the writer who can fire the director. That was the lesson I learned from Shonda Rhimes while we were waiting for the movie Countdown to Zero to start. I'd opened the conversation with "So what do you do?". "I'm a writer", responded Shonda. As I drew her out, she modestly admitted that she is the Creator and Executive Producer of Grey's Anatomy, and Private Practice. She's obviously a powerhouse in the TV business, but she describes herself as a writer, and her bio on TED underlines her passion for writing.

We talked a bit about how unusual it must have been for her to pitch these successful series (I'd noticed that she was both female and black), and she thought that she'd benefited from naivety. Not knowing how hard it should be to pitch a TV series took all the pressure off. Interesting how that was also equally true for me in the technology industry in my early career. We shared a great bond across age, industry and background.

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