Pro-Wrestler turned Used Car Salesman... turned Hollywood Pitch Man? Of course!
If you designed your life to be the subject of an action-comedy movie, and being a former pro-wrestler turned used-car salesman wasnï¿½t enoughï¿½ try adding Hollywood Pitch Man to the list of exploits. Except this isnï¿½t a movie, itï¿½s reality.
Jon Stewart of Deerfield Illinois is living this life, and can tell you first hand ï¿½anything is possible if youï¿½re willing to take calculated risks, and apply dedicated passionï¿½. As a Writer and member of The Television Writers Vault, Jon is the latest to have his project chosen for review and now sold to a major television company, Fox TV Studios after being contacted by studio division head for alternative series, David Martin, who read his pitch that was archived in The TV Writers Vault. Martin is now President of a Avalon USA, a global production shingle and has since purchased the project for packaging to produce.
Weï¿½re thrilled at the tremendous reception Jon has received with his project, and our own Scott Manville took this opportunity to sit down with the renaissance man to chat about his experiences breaking into the industry.
Scott Manville: First off, congratulation on your success. Youï¿½ve got quite an interesting story, tell us a bit about your background and how you came to writing concepts for television?
Jon Stewart: I’ve been a professional wrestler for 20 years (on and off) and because of that occupation, have always dealt with TV people; agents, producers, etc. of all shapes and sizes. With that being said, I always knew that TV people are always looking for hot ideas for TV shows, and I knew that if a person can squeeze through the door with a great pitch….they might be able to sell it.
Scott Manville: When did you first decide to make the bold choice of marketing an idea for a TV show? Was this a long time in the making, or a new venture all together for you?
Jon Stewart: I saw the reality show arena starting to struggle and I realized that my specific angle was hot, and that’s when I decided to pitch my story. It really wasn’t a long time from conception to selling the idea.
Scott Manville: Did you have any previous experience or success at contacting Networks and Production companies to pitch projects?
Jon Stewart: I’ve been in the process of selling a script for about 6 years, so I’m well versed in dealing with studios and producers.
Scott Manville: Your concept is clearly humorous, and a subject close to home for you- When did you first believe that it could translate well into a television program, and what do you think makes it a great show?
Jon Stewart: I truly believed that we had a possible reality show when time after time people kept telling me that my business needed to be on television…..it was like a weird karma-type event. What makes our show a great show is that it shows real life. Unlike many reality shows where they live in Hollywood mansions, have unlimited money and time, our show is about the struggles of a family and running a retail family business….which is brutally tough.
Scott Manville: What made you decide to join the TV Writers Vault for direct marketing of your project to buyers?
Jon Stewart: I thought that TVWritersVault.com was an economical and unique avenue to get an idea out to producers.
Scott Manville: Your project has obviously gotten the attention it deserves. How long was your project listed in The TV Writers Vault before the Studio requested to contact you?
Jon Stewart: Our project was listed for six months on TV Writers Vault .com when we got a call.
Scott Manville: What was it like to have a major television studio calling Jon Alan Stewart of Deerfield, Illinois?
Jon Stewart: Well, I ran for US Congress and with my years in wrestling, I wasn’t overwhelmed or giddy, but I was really relieved that someone thought about my project the same way I did. And the FOX executive who called me at that time was and still is one of the nicest people I have ever met.
Scott Manville: Do the folks in your hometown believe whatï¿½s going on with you, or do they say, ï¿½Pro wresterï¿½. Used-car salesmanï¿½.. Hollywood Pitch Manï¿½. Of courseï¿½?
Jon Stewart: Many people in my life are excited. Iï¿½ve actually played voice mails from the TV executive, and that really made people in my life know that something is in the works (laughs).
Scott Manville: Do you have other projects in the works, or is this a one-time deal for you?
Jon Stewart: I have talked with the TV exec about three other ideas that are hysterical.
Scott Manville: In discussing your project with the Studio Executive, did you feel out of your element, or uninformed in any way?
Jon Stewart: The Studio Executive I am dealing with is a very non-traditional “Hollywood” type person. He is patient, honest and very optimistic. He does not have the typical “negative, guarded” personality that I have come to see in most people in Hollywood. All of my family members are grateful that a “human” being is spear-heading our project.
Scott Manville: How do you feel The TV Writers Vault and I handled the mediating of the studio contacting you? Was it a simple process?
Jon Stewart: It was an effortless process……many thanks to your assistance.
Scott Manville: What advice can you give to new writers who want to create and market their projects to the television industry?
Jon Stewart: My advice is simple. Are you 100% positive that your idea is good, funny, interesting, original? I always tell people, ask your family and friends what they think? Try to find someone, on the periphery of TV (local TV producer, film college graduate or teacher, cameraman, etc. and ask their opinion of your project. Believe it or not, I’ve found that people love to give you their “expertise”…so take advantage of it. If you look hard enough, you can find someone who is willing to give you 5 or 10 minutes of their precious time.
Scott Manville: Aside from getting your project picked up by leading production companies or studios, what feature do you like best about our service at The TV Writers Vault?
Jon Stewart: Like I said before, I like the cost compared to what a person can make on their project.
Scott Manville: What can we do to better serve writers marketing their projects?
Jon Stewart: I would like to see TVWV have a convention between writers and producers. Kind of like a matchmaker party.
Scott Manville: How was it dealing with The Television Writers Vault?
Jon Stewart: First of all, you’re a gentleman. Secondly, I am here to say that there are now 2 normal people in the entertainment industry of Hollywood….one of them is you. Thirdly, you’ve been invaluable as my “go to” guy for questions and advice. By far, the most valuable commodity.
Scott Manville: We’re very happy to have been a part of your break into the industry, and look forward to tuning in. Thanks for your time and talent.
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