TNT, TV Series
This show changed my life.
THE LIBRARIANS came right on the heels of LEVERAGE, with John Rogers as showrunner and me as his Co-Executive Producer. We brought in the brilliant Geoff Thorne as Producer, and the rest of the staff consisted of five writers whose combined experience totaled four years.
We had exactly four weeks to build an entire television series based on the TV movies starring Noah Wyle as an Indiana Jones type librarian. The show combined magic, adventure, humor, and drama, and was absolutely NOT in my wheelhouse. I don’t do magic, and barely do adventure. But Rogers convinced me he needed someone to help run the room, and said regardless of whether it’s magic, adventure or whatnot, story is still king, and I know how to break story. Plus, with the very inexperienced staff, we really needed someone who knew production as well as story.
The staff did an amazing job, and we built that series, and even pulled it off with a terrific cast including Rebecca Romijn, John Larroquette, John Harlan Kim, and Lindy Booth. Noah Wyle even appeared in some episodes. Things were going well, until Season Two happened…
Just before we were to begin shooting S2, John Rogers informed me that he had a series ordered at NBC and thus, would be going over to run that show – giving me the showrunning duties on THE LIBRARIANS. Umm… while I had run multiple writers rooms, I had never run an entire show by myself. “You’ll be fine,” Rogers said, “just call if you need anything.”
Here’s what happened within 72 hours of Rogers handing me the conn:
1 - The head of the studio took Rogers leaving as a personal insult and decided to take out his anger and hurt on… his own show.
2 - Having left a bad marriage two years earlier, I had found the person I genuinely thought was my soulmate. I was to spend the rest of my life with her… until she called me from an airport and told me she was on her way to stay with her new boyfriend.
3 - The head of the studio decided he wanted “one writer” up in Portland every day of production, instead of flying each individual writer up to cover their episode. That “one writer” was me.
Knowing I was not qualified to run my own show, let alone someone else’s show; knowing I was a complete trainwreck emotionally; and having no idea how I would handle driving the creative vision of the writers room from 980 miles away (ask me about mileage and the WGA during a Zoom), off to Portland I went.
Do or Do Not, There is No Try
I did it. Despite having zero experience, despite being continuously tortured emotionally by the former soulmate, and despite a studio head doing everything in his power to wreck his own show, I pulled it off. That second season was a great success. And while I lost 30 pounds over four months, I found myself as a showrunner, as a production leader, as a writer, and most importantly of all, as a Man.
What only one of the 200 or so cast & crew members knew during that season was that there were literally days when I’d show up on set, give out orders as the showrunner and creative leader, then excuse myself to the bathroom… where I would bawl my eyes out for a couple of minutes, then wash my face, look in the mirror, and in my best Joe Gideon say, “It’s showtime, folks.” And I’d go back and RUN THAT SHOW until I had to hit the bathroom again.
The apogee of that season came one weekend halfway through the season when the head of the studio threw out a script on a Thursday that was set to begin prep on Monday morning.
I found out at the catering truck when a PA handed me a crew memo stating the next episode had been spiked due to it not being up to the standards of the show - the episode had John Rogers’ name on it, gosh, I wonder why it was spiked - and that “Paul Guyot would deliver a new episode come Monday morning.” This happened to be the morning after I’d gotten almost no sleep because I’d been up all night pleading with the former soulmate to take me back.
WIth the help of the amazing Goeff Thorne, I came up with an entire new episode and wrote it in three days. How did I do it? The episode was about the devil battling the Librarians, and much of the dialogue in the episode was taken from that all night convo with the former soulmate. Write What You Know!
The Life Change
Pulling off that Season In Hell (props to Eddie & The Cruisers) as a writer, producer, and showrunner healed me and helped me grow in so many ways outside of being a writer. I let go of the former soulmate and all that suffering and martyrdom, and realized I was much better than I ever thought I was. A better writer, producer, person, father, partner, and just a better human being. The nightmare of that year made me better in every way, and I wouldn’t change a thing.