My Crazy CBS Pilot Trainwreck
In a wild excerpt from her new memoir, former TV writer Patty Lin thought she was in business (and BFFs) with Ben Silverman and Salma Hayek — until she wasn't
Patty Lin’s visit to then-NBC's Late Night with David Letterman and a later coveted college internship on the show launched her career as a TV writer, one that would eventually include an enviable list of credits: Freaks and Geeks, Friends, Desperate Housewives and Breaking Bad. But the N.J.-raised Cornell grad grew increasingly unhappy thanks to toxic writers rooms, punishing hours, fewer psychic and financial rewards than she had imagined, and, of course, Hollywood superficiality. By 2009, she left the business.
In an excerpt from her dishy new memoir End Credits: How I Broke Up with Hollywood (Zibby Books), she walks through her absurd, awful experience developing a CBS pilot in 2006. The tale involves Salma Hayek, Ben Silverman, private planes, Sammy Sosa and, in the background pulling the strings, then-CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler and her team. Enjoy.
I was still wrestling with the idea of quitting television. But over the past year, I had spent so much energy getting my love life back on track that I didn’t put any [energy] into figuring out what I would do if I quit. Plus, I’d been living on savings and needed a job. So, for lack of a better option, I decided to pursue another blind script deal in the fall of 2006. I told myself that the lessons I’d learned and the equanimity I’d gained since Bridge and Tunnel [a pilot script developed for Fox that didn’t go forward] would make for a better experience this time around.
You know what they say about that river in Egypt.
I had a meeting at CBS Studios, whose head of drama development was an intelligent, personable woman named Julie [McNamara], whom I remembered from a general meeting years before. I had a good feeling about her and thought that working with someone new would broaden my horizons.
Julie proposed a project that was already in development at CBS: an adaptation of a novel called ¡Yo! by Julia Alvarez. The president of CBS Entertainment, Nina Tassler, was reportedly passionate about the book, and Salma Hayek was attached as a producer. I knew of Salma only as an actress, but her producing career was off to a successful start with the ABC dramedy Ugly Betty, a remake of a Colombian telenovela.
The executive responsible for bringing Ugly Betty to America was Ben Silverman, a young hotshot who had also co-opted the British series The Office and turned it into NBC’s number-one comedy. I had no idea how I was getting involved with these high-profile people. It was like stumbling into the Land of Oz.