tv show idea (no really!)

"There have been many threats of lawsuits between US networks over what they call too close copying. I don’t think any of these have gotten to court, but I’m fairly sure that some shows have never made it to the air.

But the entertainment industry is in general a different beast than the print industry, and it is next to impossible to make direct comparisons of law or practice. For example, the Writers Guild of America - West, basically the screenwriters union, does indeed have an idea depository that members can place dated material into. This is for members only and is first subject to binding internal arbitration, so there is absolutely nothing like it in the print world. Perhaps this is where the very mistaken idea of sending yourself material comes from in urban legend form.

Reality shows are not “scripted” in this sense, so they are governed by different rules, but are still subject to basic copyright practices."

That’s from the only thread (lost link) close to my question. Once your put your story or show idea into a format in writing, and aren’t part of the guild. How do you protect it once you start sending it around. And who do you start sending it to? I assume companies are wary of reading scripts.

Most TV shows will not accept unsolicited manuscripts from writers who are not members of the Guild. Period.

The only way for a non-Guild member to get a script even looked at is to submit it through a recognized agent who’s agreed to comply with Guild arbitration.

In short, first you get an agent.

IIRC, the date that counts is the date you first submit the script, not the date it was actually written.

Pitching a reality show is a totally different proposition from pitching a scripted show. You don’t “write” a reality show; you produce one. There are no manuscripts and the Writers Guild does not come into it. I doubt that most agents would work with you on one; it’s outside of their field.

So how do you pitch one?

There are industry conventions in which ordinary people can come in and pitch reality show ideas. They get made fun of on Leno on a regular basis. However, even some of the weirder ideas do get picked up - although whether they ever make it through to final on-air showing is a different question.

The only other route that would have the slightest chance of success is personal contacts. It’s all about who you know, as it ever was.

Don’t worry about somebody stealing your idea. For one thing, if multibillion dollar outfits have to worry about it, you can’t possibly hope to prevent it. For another thing, somebody’s already thought of it. (You think that’s not true, but you’re wrong.) You just have to worry about making your pitch as interesting as possible.

So if the idea never makes it TV, do you still have a chance to make money of it? And who are you if it does go on TV? The “creator”? Which reminds me of another question about tv producers i’ll have to post on its own…