How to Submit a Show Idea to Fox Television

By Gail Cohen

If you’ve got an idea for an action hero TV series that makes Jack Bauer seem like a wimp, you owe it to yourself (and to all fans of the show "24") to find a way to get your concept to the movers and shakers at the Fox TV network. Corporate headquarters are located in Los Angeles, so you’ll need a combination of chutzpah and an airline ticket if you don’t live in the area. That said, this is one creative risk you’ll want to take given the rewards that await you if you are successful. TV execs speed through life rather than stroll along, so your pitch needs to be fast, hot and short. Here are the basics required to get your foot in the door. The rest is up to you.

Read TV program trade journals and other publications to make certain you understand exactly what types of shows Fox is looking to produce. The trick here is not necessarily to conjure up a current concept; you must look at the market and fit your idea into the framework of an emerging broadcast trend.

Flesh out your characters by writing and refining a sample script. Some writers take a creative approach and have horoscopes cast for their characters; others paste magazine photos of “cast members” on a wall above their writing station. Fox seeks character-driven series, so yours should be so fleshed out that you could answer a query about a character’s food choice without blinking.

Master the art of the “logline.” Think of the logline as instant coffee: a short burst of copy that describes your show to a complete stranger in no more than two sentences. The strength of this word burst must be so dynamic, a Fox programming exec will immediately envision how your story line can develop over time. Your logline should include a “hook” that sets your idea apart from all others.

Develop a bunch of loglines and refine them repeatedly to make every word count. When you have written a few, sit a couple of people down (choose only those who aren't afraid of being honest), ask them to get into a Fox programmer’s mindset, then deliver the pitches verbally. Ask which were the most vivid and comprehensive. Refine your drafts until you have only one.

Contact Fox directly. Visit their website (below) and fulfill all of the network’s submission requirements. If this avenue doesn’t bear fruit, ferret out names of producers responsible for new program concept development. Mount your campaign with letters, emails and phone calls. Find a balance between smart pitch candidate and annoying stalker.

Check with Fox to see if there are any plans in the works to repeat its “Pitch-O-Rama.” This Fox program invited animation teams to apply for the chance to pitch their idea to studio execs; 1,000 submitted ideas and 60 were invited to Los Angeles. The event was the brainchild of Jeremy Gold, senior vice president for comedy development.

Get an agent if making connection with the right program developers proves impossible. Los Angeles is littered with agents, so your search must be highly targeted to only those who have ties to or represent talent appearing on Fox programs (see Resources).

Tip

Become comfortable with the art of logline writing. Watch current Fox TV shows and write loglines for them. This practice forces you to examine the skeletal structure of a broadcast’s theme and content, and refine it down to bare essentials.

About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.