Making an Impact
In its fourteen years, a total of 105 emerging diverse writers have graduated from the CBS Writers Mentoring Program. 61 careers have been launched. The goal of the program is to positively impact the presence of diverse writers throughout the industry.
How it Works
There are many different paths writers can follow to get their first foothold in being hired in television. As part of its ongoing commitment to create additional access for writers of diverse backgrounds CBS’ Diversity Institute has launched a different kind of writers program which highlights one of those paths. The focus of this eight month program is on opening doors: providing opportunities to build relationships with network executives and show runners; to support new and emerging writers in their efforts to improve their craft; and to develop the interpersonal skills necessary to break in and succeed. The Writers Mentoring Program is not employment and there is no monetary compensation. It is, instead, a structured program of career development, support, and personal access to executives and the decision-making processes, with the goal of preparing aspiring writers for later employment opportunities in television. Each participant will be teamed with an executive mentor.
- A CBS network or studio executive with whom they will meet on a regular basis, to discuss their work, get creative feedback on their material and get advice and support in furthering their career.
Once a week, participants will be invited to attend a small workshop-style meeting with various CBS show runners and other industry professionals. Speakers include executive producers, agents, managers, development and current executives and show runners. The purpose of these gatherings is for participants to gain a better understanding of how the business works from many different perspectives as well as creating the opportunity to make critical networking connections. Another important part of the Program is the opportunity for each participant to spend time observing in a writing room, as well as in the CBS current and development departments. Each participant will have help in creating a rigorous career action plan and there will be on-going support in evaluating and achieving those goals. Another important benefit of the Program is the development of a close-knit peer support group that will sustain participants through the program and beyond. The CBS Writers Mentoring Program helps aspiring writers to understand the unwritten rules of breaking in and moving up. It is a combination of mentoring and networking opportunities. Program opportunities such as mentoring, workshops, and observing can be scheduled around participants’ existing work commitments. In order for a participant to get the most out of the Program a meaningful commitment of time and effort are required. It’s been found that in order to derive the greatest benefit from the Program, participants should be available to 1) attend a once a week (evening) workshop and 2) attend meetings or observe in various situations for a minimum of five full days (not necessarily in sequence) over the course of the eight-month Program.
The primary focus of The CBS Diversity Institute’s Writers Mentoring Program is to provide access and opportunities for talented and motivated diverse writers. Aspiring diverse writers with a strong desire to write for CBS television series are encouraged to apply. You must be 21 or older to be eligible. All completed application materials must be received between March 1, 2018 and May 1, 2018. Any submissions received before March 1st or after May 1st, 2018 will not be considered. No hand delivered submissions will be accepted. Finalists will be notified in mid September 2018 (or such later date as may be determined by CBS). The Program is scheduled to begin in October, 2018 and continues through April 1, 2019. CBS reserves the right to make adjustments to Program schedule.
Application Materials ~
Each submission must be complete in order to be considered. A complete application packet includes:
- Letter of Interest
- Work Resume or Bio
- Two (2) Writing Samples: one (1) half-hour or one-hour episodic spec script based on a current prime time television series which aired, or was released, during the 2017/2018 season on any network or cable channel, including Netflix, Hulu or Amazon and (1) original work of writing – (original pilot, stage play or short fiction story). Original material should match in tone the spec script.
- A signed Submission Release form for the writing samples.
Please submit all documentation in PDF form.
Contact information must include an e-mail address for further communication from CBS. Applications cannot be processed until they are complete. Writing samples will not be returned.
Apply for the 2018 -2019 Writers Mentoring Program: (link will be available March 1st)
2018 – 2019 Writers Mentoring Program
Submission Period: March 1, 2018 – May 1, 2018
1) Application Be sure to include e-mail contact information, as this is necessary for any further communication from CBS. Inquiries should be made via email, rather than telephone.
2) Resumé or Bio Please include an up-to-date work resume or bio in PDF format.
3) Letter of Interest Your letter should be addressed to the CBS Writers Mentoring Program and will be used to evaluate your personal qualifications for participation in the Program. Please tell us why you should be selected as a part of the Program and what talents and personal qualities you have to offer as part of a future writing staff on a television show. Include a few lines about the value of your diverse voice as a writer, and its impact on television writing. PLEASE keep your letter to one typewritten, double-spaced page and submit in PDF format.
4) Writing Samples The CBS Writers Mentoring Program is seeking creative, talented and highly motivated individuals to participate. In order to evaluate a writer’s originality, one (1) original writing sample is required. An original pilot, a stage play or a short fiction story. We request that your original sample be similar in tone to your spec sample. In order to evaluate a writer’s ability to capture the tone and structure of an existing television show, one (1) episodic writing sample is required. The writing sample can be either a half hour or an hour episode, based on a primetime drama or comedy series which aired, or was released, during the 2017/2018 season and was broadcast on any network or cable channel, including Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. It is strongly recommended that all writing samples be registered with the Writers Guild of America, west, Inc. or the Library of Congress. For information on registration of material at the Writers Guild of America go to www.wga.org or contact the Intellectual Property Registry department at (323)782-4500. To contact the United States Library of Congress, go to www.copyright.gov or call (202)707-5959.
5) Submission Release Forms A completed and signed release form MUST be included, otherwise your submission will not be processed. Applications cannot be returned.
Application packets should be submitted online. No Hand Deliveries Will Be Accepted. All applications must include an e-mail address in order to receive further communication from CBS. If any of the application items are missing, the application will not be processed. Finalists will be notified in September and a personal interview will be scheduled shortly thereafter. The 2018 Writers Program is scheduled to begin in October, 2018 and continues through April 1, 2018. Participation in the CBS Writers Mentoring Program in no way guarantees future employment. * Or such later date as to be determined by CBS.
Apply for the 2018 -2019 Writers Mentoring Program here: (link will be available March 1st)
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What writing samples are appropriate for submission? Two writing samples are required. The original work can be an original pilot, a stage play or a short fiction story. We request that your original sample be similar in tone to the spec sample. The stage play may be in one, two or three acts. The short fiction piece should be approximately 3,000 words. Spec scripts should be a half hour or hour episode based on a primetime drama or comedy series which aired or was released, during the 2017/18 season and was broadcast on a network, cable, Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon.
2. What writing samples are unacceptable for submission? Unacceptable materials include: treatments, outlines, newspaper or magazine articles, novels, motion picture screenplays and sequels to motion pictures.
3. Can I resubmit the same writing samples as I did for a previous year? Please do not resubmit the same writing samples you used for previous applications. The criteria used for evaluating material is identical to prior year’s , so if your previous samples were not selected for the Program, it is unlikely they would be selected this time. However, if you have SIGNIFICANTLY rewritten your material, you may submit it for consideration.
4. In the case of a writing team submission, must we file separate applications? Yes. We must receive an application for each team member as well as a resume or bio and letter of interest. We also require Releases from each team member. Please be sure to note the full name of your writing partner in the script submission sections of the application, and to include BOTH writer names on submitted scripts.
5. If I don’t work or live in the United States, am I eligible to apply to this Program? Yes, however, CBS does not provide any travel or accommodation reimbursement.
6. Where is the Program being held? The Program is held in Los Angeles, and all participants will need to be close to Los Angeles for the duration of the Program in order to participate in Program activities. As stated above, participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses.
7. What is the duration of the program and the required time commitment? The Program is expected to run approximately eight months, beginning in October. Program hours and activities will vary, but regular meetings with mentors and fellow program members are an intrinsic part of the Program and may require a time commitment of up to twenty hours a month. Additionally, to get the maximum benefits from the Program, participants should be available a minimum of five full days (not necessarily in sequence) over the duration of the eight months.
8. How many participants will be chosen? Up to ten participants will be selected each year.
9. What is the compensation for participating in the Program? The CBS Writers Mentoring Program is not employment and there is no monetary compensation.
10. How are the matches made between the Program Participants and Mentors? Matches are made based on career interests and mentor availability. Finalists will meet with a potential mentor.
11. Must my application be received by May 1, 2018? Your application MUST be RECEIVED no later than May 1, 2018. Applications received after May 1, 2018 will not be processed.
12. When and how will I be informed as to whether or not I have been chosen to participate in the Program? Finalists will be chosen and invited for a personal interview by late October. PLEASE NO TELEPHONE INQUIRIES.
13. Must I submit a resume, even if I have not worked as a professional writer? Yes. All applicants must submit either a work resume or a short biographical summary as part of the selection process.
14. Can you suggest any reading materials for new television writers? Yes.
- Writing for Episodic Television: From Freelance to Showrunner edited by John Wirth and Jeff Melvoin. An invaluable booklet published by The Writers Guild of America. You can download the booklet from the WGA website (go to www.wga.org. Click on “Publications” and then Click on “Writing for Episodic Television.”) You can also purchase a hardcopy of the booklet ($3.00) by calling the Operations department of the Writers Guild at 323-782-4687 and requesting the booklet by title.
- Writing the Television Drama Series by Pamela Douglas, published by Michael Wiese, 2007. A great step-by-step approach to writing a one-hour drama.
- Small Screen, Big Picture by Chad Gervitch, published by Media Bistro, 2008. A superb overview of the television business and the writer’s role in it.
- Making a Good Script Great 2nd edition by Linda Seger, Samuel French Trade c. 1987. A very helpful book that can teach you how to you improve your script.
- Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, Television or Digital Entertainment by Carole Kirschner, Michael Wiese Publishing, 2012. An excellent introduction to the entertainment industry including how to get into the business and how to move up.
- The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri, Touchstone Books, 1972. One of the best books on the basics of character creation and dramatic writing.