bittersweet.

Just found this online:

SAMANTHA WHO?: “The Hypnotherapist” – Sam makes an appointment with a hypnotherapist in an effort to regain her lost memories. But her revelations lead her to conclude that Regina and Howard may not be her real parents. Meanwhile, Todd makes a shocking confession to Sam, on “Samantha Who?,” MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19 (9:32-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

“Samantha Who?” stars Christina Applegate as Samantha, Jennifer Esposito as Andrea, Kevin Dunn as Howard, Melissa McCarthy as Dena, Tim Russ as Frank with Barry Watson as Todd and Jean Smart as Regina.

“The Hypnotherapist” was written by Pamela Ribon and directed by Michael Spiller.

(Did you know you can now get Samantha Who? on iTunes? Please don’t. Not yet. Hopefully soon.)

[Just in case you’re wondering why people in Hollywood seem crazy… wouldn’t this make you crazy, too?]

Day Four. Updates.

Let me see if I can paint the past week for you really quickly.

OCTOBER 29. Monday. We get to work knowing it’ll probably be our last week of work. We are frantically writing what will be our final script. Pencils down is coming soon. We are hoping against hope that a strike will be avoided. Everybody’s tense. Our show airs tonight, the third episode, and if it does as well as it has been going, we’re looking like we’ll get a full-season order. Everything you dream of as a working writer might just happen… just in time to walk out of the offices.

I debate for hours, literally hours, about finally going to a meeting to sign up as our official strike captain. I ask other people on staff if they’ll do it, or if they’re interested. Most people say to me that since I am sympathetic to every person’s situation in the room, and because I’m the most passionate about both striking and working, they’d rather I was the one in charge. Besides, I’m the one who’s had all of the information. And I’ve done this before. For years now. I walked the line with Top Model (I would love to post a link but my archives are terribly broken. Can someone help me fix Moveable Type? AB’s very busy with her strike duties!). I helped with the early organization for Comedy Central, which led to several shows going Guild.

[I just heard a group of high schoolers marching outside on their way home from school, shouting, “Strike! Strike! Right, left, right! Strike! Strike! Right, left, right!” Thanks for the solidarity, my friends.] Continue reading

The Office Is Closed.

Day Three on the line. The sun comes out and hits us pretty hard halfway through the shift, so I followed the lead of another strike captain who brought Trivial Pursuit cards to the line to pass out to circling picketers.

I brought a sleeve of Pop Culture edition and shouted, “Without you, this stack of cards wouldn’t exist! If you find yourself or a friend of yours mentioned in this card, please shout BINGO, because you win!”

I’ve got fifty people on my line, give or take. Fifty random people of the 12,000 in the guild. And within an hour, we had a bingo. Christine Zander, a writer on Samantha Who? found an episode of 3rd Rock From the Sun, which was written by her as a question on the card.

Justine Bateman joined our line today. Wearing her SAG shirt, and walking the circle. Continue reading

Why I’m on STRIKE.

I’m striking for fair compensation and representation, because every writer is a writer, no matter where he or she is writing. From TV to film to non-jurisdictional programming (Reality, Basic Cable, Animation, Webisodes, Mobisodes, etc.), if you are writing content that is watched on a screen, then you deserve compensation, health care and pension. This is an industry where you work hard and risk an awful lot just to be lucky enough to make a single sale. A single sale of a script, let alone be lucky enough to make a big sale, or be on a successful television show. And you often go years between gigs. I went a year between my last two. And what keeps you going are the residuals. Because when you’re not working, you’re supposed to still be writing. For free. With the hope that you’ll sell something else. Without the little residual checks in the mail, it is difficult to pay the mortgage. This is a business where you don’t earn a paycheck a week. Sometimes you don’t get them for a very long time. The time between when I made a development deal for Why Moms Are Weird to when I got paid for it was eight months. During that time I sold that pitch to ABC, wrote many drafts of a pilot, and eventually saw that pilot get turned down. Eight months between getting a job and getting paid for it. Eight months where I had to work and wait, while trying to pay the bills.

Residuals aren’t what get us fancy cars and mansions. They are what keep us going while we work. They’re our paychecks. I’ve been working in television for over three years. How many residual checks have I received in that time? One. One single green envelope.

Every time someone buys one of my novels, in print or internet form, I am paid a percentage, because I created that content. It should be no different for television, film or internet broadcasts of that media.

I have worked on reality shows, basic cable shows, basic cable films, and network television. I spent one season writing for a non-union basic cable comedy show, working upwards of sixty hours a week on the second-highest rated show on Comedy Central, and at the end of that year I received a letter in the mail from the Writers Guild that said: “You have received zero points toward your pension.”

It’s time for writers to be represented and compensated for the work that they create, work that generates jobs, entertainment, and revenue. I wouldn’t walk just to make more money. I walk to get the respect that everybody who works in the entertainment industry deserves. The thing is in business, respect is handed out through dollars.

I’m walking for my future. For my health care. For my pension. For my family. For every writer who writes with hope and a dream. I walk because it matters.

samantha who? and pamie where?

My website’s been broken for about a month, and I’ve been unable to update. Also, I’ve been busting my butt over here.

Hope you watch and enjoy. Because I’d love to have this job stick around for a long time.

Oh, another thing that happened while the site was down that made me think of you guys. I walked into the building after taping the last segment of my episode, and the showrunner said to me, “So, your episode is looking great. Nothing to worry about. One little thing, though. In the credits, they listed you as Paula Ribon. Is that going to be a problem?”

Y’all know I didn’t even flinch when I said, “Yeah, I figured. Also, that’s my mother’s name.”

And I also suppose it won’t be too big of a shock when I tell you that my sister was disappointed that I didn’t ask them to keep my mother’s name in the credits.

Anyway, hope you like the show. My mom almost worked hard on it.

the internet and me were on a break (sorry).

Oh, my goodness. It’s been a while. Sorry about that. It’s because you need to:

Watch Samantha Who? starring Christina Applegate, Jean Smart, Melissa McCarthy and Jennifer Esposito, starting October 15th, Monday nights on ABC. Right between Dancing With the Stars and The Bachelor. A night so girly, you just might ovulate!

There are a few things I miss about working on the WB lot. One of them is my parking space, right in front of the door. But this year, while my parking space is far away in a garage, it has my name on it! My name, spelled correctly, thank you, right there where I park. So official! I totally work here!

At the last sitcom, my office was at the very end of a long hallway, so far away from the rest of the action that there was one occasion where the entire staff left for a table read and forgot to get me. Anyway, this year my office is right in front. Right at the front door, as a matter of fact, with two big windows, one of which slides open. I was informed this is because my office was the original pay window on the lot, where everybody would stand in line on Fridays to get their paychecks.

Having a sliding window in a building full of funny people is a good time at first. I’ve taken a lot of drive-thru orders, using the back of my bendy lamp as a crappy microphone. People like to press themselves up against the window, pretend I’m an art installation, or a zoo animal, or they shout at me instead of walking two extra steps to be inside my office. I can see trees, and the room is usually sunny. It helped the other day when one of the writers came into my office during lunch and shouted, “Jesus Christ, it reeks in here!”

But yesterday, I learned the hazards of my sliding window. Continue reading

Things I Had to Try Really Hard Not to Say When I Found Myself Standing Next To Jenna Fischer at a Bookstore.

1. “Oh, my gosh! You’re Pam! And I’m Pam! I mean, I’m really Pam, and you’re playing Pam, but your Pam is awesome and I’m not fictional.”

2. “How’s your back? I mean… I read about how you broke it at the upfronts. I know that’s none of my business. Nevermind. Don’t answer that, I don’t care. I mean, I care, of course I care, but I mean I don’t care that you don’t want to tell me how your back is. Do you need me to carry your books?”

3. “Hey! My name is Pam and I write on a TV show and you play Pam on a TV show where one of your co-workers is named Jim and — guess what? — one of my co-workers is named Jim! So we’re like Jim and Pam, except we don’t like each other like that. I mean, we like each other fine, as friends, but we don’t flirt or anything like you and your Jim do. We mostly talk about So You Think You Can Dance. Wait, does that mean he likes me? Do you want to get some coffee right now and talk about what we should do about our Jims?” Continue reading

office space

I keep planning on sitting down to write my Festival of Books story. I haven’t forgotten.

Instead: Two Office-related thoughts in my head lately.

The first was after hearing that Jenna Fischer broke her back at the upfronts by slipping on marble stairs while wearing heels. “That’s exactly what will happen to me if I ever get to go to the upfronts,” I thought. Because, come on. You know that’s what will happen, right after they introduce me as Pamlea “Camel” Riboy.

But more disturbingly, when I found out that The Rules For Starting Over had been picked up, my first thought wasn’t the one I should have had. See, the producers on that show are the ones who developed Why Moms Are Weird with me this season. And just last week I went in to meet all the other people on Rules, because they’d read my stuff. And so the first thought I’m supposed to have upon hearing that a show I met on got picked up is, “Yay! Maybe I’ll get a job!” But instead I thought, “Yay! Rashida Jones will have to leave The Office! Jim and Pam can finally be together!”

Which is why yesterday I bought five books. Because I think it’s time to step away from the television for a little while. (Just as soon as Lost and The Sopranos are over. I mean, come on!) Continue reading

waiting.

Lots of waiting.

I turned in the final draft of Why Moms Are Weird: The Sitcom to ABC last Thursday. Today, we are supposed to learn its fate. Will they want to shoot the pilot?

As I sit here, staring at my cell phone, waiting, I realize I’ve been gone from this site for a very long time. I’m sorry to have neglected you. Life has been taking over… well, my life. Continue reading