Good Wife Writer "sonLeonard" Plays Good Samaritan at TV Forum (Vancouver Sun)

September 23, 2012

Leonard Dick was a ‘vice-president of Excel spreadsheets’ when he quit his job to pursue writing.

Photo by Meredith Averill at "The Good Wife" offices

I have mentioned sonLeonard here from time to time. I coined that name to avoid any confusion if I were to just write  "Leonard".

Actually, I rarely refer to Leonard Cohen as  "Leonard" in my posts here, on the Forum or on Facebook.  I tend to use LC. And before you ask...No, I did not name my son after Leonard Cohen.

btw. when sending emails to me, sonLeonard often signs them, "the other Leonard".

The following article featuring sonLeonard is from the Vancouver Sun and was sent to me by Leslie PY.  Thank you Leslie.

Good Wife writer Leonard Dick plays Good Samaritan at forum

Toronto-born writer hopes to guide up-and-comers on how to break into writing for TV and film

By Mark leiren-Young, Special to The Sun September 20, 2012

The Premise and the Hook
Where: Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre
When: Friday, Sept. 28, 2:15 p.m.

Leonard Dick used to be the aspiring writer who watched the panels of media professionals being presented at events like the Vancouver Film Festival Forum. But today, the veteran TV writer who has worked on Lost, House, The Mentalist and, now, The Good Wife is a scriptwriting star who would-be writers and industry professionals are happy to stand in line to see.

“I used to eat up these kinds of panels when I was starting out,” the Toronto-born TV writer told The Sun in a phone interview from his home in Los Angeles. “I used to glean nuggets of wisdom from people I’ve heard over the years, and I found them inspiring.”

Dick is on a panel for the Forum’s TV Day titled “The Premise and the Hook” alongside Tim Schlattmann, the executive producer of Dexter, and Angus Fraser, whose writing credits include Combat Hospital. The forum is organized by acclaimed short filmmaker Kellie Ann Benz.

The four-day event — which also covers film, factual programming, global trends and advice for new filmmakers — features approximately 100 guest speakers, including Jane Epenson (writer for Once Upon a Time, Battlestar Galactica and every cool show ever created by Joss Whedon), Simon Barry (creator of Continuum), Rhett Reese (writer of Zombieland), Glenn Berger (writer of Kung Fu Panda), Deepa Mehta (who directed the festival’s gala premier, Midnight’s Children) and Corner Gas creator Brent Butt.

Dick took the long road to Hollywood, starting in Toronto and arriving at Harvard, where he received his MBA in 1990, which landed him a typical entertainment industry job — working on Wall Street. Then he landed a gig as a summer intern at Cineplex Odeon during the golden years of Garth Drabinsky, just as the gold ran dry.

“If Cineplex Odeon hadn’t run into trouble, I probably would have been back in Toronto.”

Dick wanted to work in the entertainment industry doing something creative, so he moved to Los Angeles to take a job with Disney — as a finance executive.

“I just needed a foot in the door and that was my version of waiting on tables, or being an assistant. I was fortunate enough to have an MBA and a business background,” says Dick. “I was the vice-president of Excel spreadsheets.”

While he was excelling with spreadsheets, Dick took a sitcom writing class at UCLA.

“I wrote a spec sitcom script (a sample of The Wonder Years) and I had my epiphany. I said, ‘I think I want to do this when I grow up,’” said Dick.

“I was dating this woman who grew up here, and went to Beverly High. (Her) parents were in entertainment. It wasn’t a big deal to her. So she said, ‘Just do it!’ And I said, ‘You don’t understand — middle-class people in Toronto, we don’t do this kind of thing.’

“With her encouragement, within the course of one week, I resigned from my job at Disney, I proposed to her, and now she’s been my wife of 19 years.”

Although The Good Wife has made a few jokes about Canada and Canadians, Dick says none were his.

“My favourite line I’ve ever written was in an episode of The Good Wife last year and it made it into the directors cut, but it didn’t make the final cut.” It was in an episode Dick wrote about head injuries in a fictionalized version of the NHL. “One of the show’s lead lawyers asks a rival whether he’s trying to organize a class-action suit, and the lawyer’s response is, ‘Yep, seven players.’ That line was in the show. The line after that that got cut was, ‘Eight, if I can find Flin Flon, Man. on a map.’”

Dick says it was a treat just to hear Fred Thompson (the actor, former U.S. senator and failed presidential candidate) say the line. “I’m still a diehard Canadian and proud of it,” says Dick.

And that’s the other reason he’s so pleased to be part of the VIFF program. “Any opportunity to come home, especially to celebrate arts and media in my own country, it’s a pleasure and it’s an honour.

“This (VIFF) program looks like a fantastic program across the board, so I’m going to be as much an eager participant and festival-goer as I am a panelist,” says Dick.

“I’m hoping maybe three words I say might help guide a young writer who doesn’t know how to navigate his or her way. That’s the hardest thing — how do you go from a standing start and break into an industry which can seem scary and inaccessible. The good news is, it is accessible. So I’m hoping maybe something I say sticks with somebody — certainly my kids don’t listen to me.”