Last week we named the three finalists of the pilot writing competition. This week, we’re delighted to announce the names and loglines of the three finalists in the 2012 TV Spec Writing Competition. Here they are in no particular order…

Matt Peabody for his half-hour spec script, Curb Your Enthusiasm, “Larry the Donor”

Larry becomes a donor in order to help save a friend’s marriage.

Denise Harkavy for her half-hour spec script, Awkward, “Motherhood”

A misunderstanding ensues when a positive pregnancy test is found in the Hamilton household.

Sam Jendrick for her half-hour spec script, The Big Bang Theory, “The Hypernova Deliberation”

Leonard, Sheldon, Wolowitz and Raj become convinced that a deadly gamma ray burst is about to strike earth.

Just like the pilot finalists, Matt, Denise, and Sam will work 1-on-1 with a mentor who will help them prepare their scripts for the final round of judging, after which they will receive cash prizes, have their names announced in the Hollywood Reporter, and get their names and loglines in front of more than 1,000 industry managers, agents, and producers. Read on for the impressions of these 3 gifted writers as they discuss their journey to the final round of the competition.

What brought you to the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program?

Matt Peabody: I wanted to learn the craft of TV writing and I discovered the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program by chance, while I was playing on the internet during one of my designated times I set aside to write. The opportunity to be taught by real industry professionals and connect with other aspiring writers was exactly what I was looking for. Turns out that might have been my most productive writing session ever.

Denise Harkavy: I heard great things about the program and its instructors. When it comes to learning craft, being taught by professional writers seemed like the way to go. The UCLA Extension Writers’ Program is great for anyone who’s serious about TV writing. Thank you for being a training ground for aspiring writers and making learning so much fun.

Sam Jendrick: When I came out to LA and started writing, it was difficult not having any structure and only learning from books, most of which aren’t specific to sitcoms. When the TV writer I work for mentioned the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program to me, I knew it was exactly what I needed and signed up immediately.

What made you enter into the UCLA Extension Television Writing Competition?

MP: Prior to this point, I failed to place in each writing contest I entered and was turned down by every writing fellowship program in town. Judging a script is so subjective; one person could read your work and be blown away, while the next person might think it stinks. So it’s important not to put too much stock into the outcome of these things. Having said that, this contest offered the chance for industry exposure if you did well, so I entered.

DH: My instructor, Phil Kellard, told me about it and encouraged me to submit my Awkward spec. I’m glad he did.

SM: I try to submit to as many competitions as possible. After working so hard on a script, I just want to get it out in the world and have it read. When my roommate mentioned this contest, I was excited to apply.

How does it feel to be in the top three? What are you most excited about?

MP: It’s nice to know that someone appreciates your work, but the recognition also belongs to every one of my classmates and instructors that pitched me ideas and gave me feedback to help me mold this script. For me, writing anything of quality would be impossible without the help of others.

DH: Making it this far feels like a real stamp of approval. It fueled my passion and motivated me to continue writing more specs and pilots.

SM: It feels great. I’m excited that people are reading my script and responding to it. I hope that continues and more opportunities come of it. And when people see I’m a little easier to work with than Charlie Sheen, I hope that helps too.

Which courses/instructors in the Writers’ Program have been your favorite while developing your winning script?

MP: I first developed this particular script in a class with Barry Vigon and later re-wrote it in a class with Alan Kirschenbaum. I’m privileged to have been under the tutelage of both of these men and have the chance to draw off their wealth of knowledge. I believe the instructors are the heart and soul of the Wp’, which happens to be filled with teachers who are not only first class writers themselves, but also true industry professionals with first-hand experience. They’re the reason I keep coming back.

DH: Phil Kellard’s comedy spec writing class was a blast. He conducts it like a simulated writers’ room, which provides great insights into collaborative storytelling. It really helped improve my writing.

In addition, I learned a lot in Greg Elliot‘s pilot writing class. He not only teaches craft, but also encourages you to dig deep and share your own experiences to create stories that resonate.

SM: Alan Kirschenbaum’s Advanced Sitcom Rewrite class really took my script to the next level. He gives no-nonsense feedback, and his structural notes were instrumental in getting the most out of my story.

Many congrats to Matt, Denise and Sam, as well as to our semi-finalists in the same category (in no particular order):

Kyle Anderson – Modern Family, “License to Grill” (Half-Hour Spec)

Katherine Beattie – Breaking Bad, “Incarcerated” (One-Hour Spec)

Nicholas Keetch – Justified, “Bloodline” (One-Hour Spec)

Cole Fowler – The Good Wife, “Protect and Serve” (One-Hour Spec)

David Grant – Community, “Computer Science 101” (Half-Hour Spec)

Courtney Lichteman – 30 Rock, “What Would Kelly Do?” (Half-Hour Spec)

Lindy Gomez – Happy Endings, “Another Steakout” (Half-Hour Spec)

For details about applying to next year’s competition, click here.

Chae Ko is the Program Representative for onsite and online screenwriting courses. Contact him at

Pin It on Pinterest