Category Archives: Television

Outtakes of me and Chris Hardwick

On tonight’s Wil Wheaton Project, my friend Chris Hardwick came by to do something really silly and funny. I don’t want to give away the joke, because I think it’s a good one, but here are some outtakes that don’t give anything away:

I’m grateful to my network for giving me permission to do this, and I hope that it’s only the beginning of me getting to share all sorts of stuff from the show that doesn’t make it into the final cut.

OBLIGATORY ALL-CAPS REMINDER THAT THE WIL WHEATON PROJECT PREMIERES IN TWO AND A HALF HOURS ON SYFY.

Today, we shoot our first episode of The Wil Wheaton Project

The Wil Wheaton Project

In a few hours, I’ll begin recording the first episode of The Wil Wheaton Project. We’ve been working on it for a very long time, and it is a surreal feeling to know that in about 30 hours, my stupid face is going to be a moderately big deal for twenty-one and a half minutes on a major cable network.

I have the same feeling I have before I publish a book, or after I wrap a TV show: I’ve done the best I can to make something I’m proud of, that I think other people will like, but it’s pretty much out of my hands the second we push the beautiful, shiny button … the jolly, candy-like button. Like everything I do as an artist, the best I can hope for is that I don’t get hit by lightning on my way out of the studio. Oh, and that the stuff I think is entertaining and informative lands on the audience the same way.

I know a lot of you reading this don’t subscribe to cable or satellite, and as far as I know, it will be online at Syfy.com and probably Hulu and Hulu+, but I’m not sure how soon after it airs. I also think it’s available as a subscription in iTunes. I know that, because of a number of factors that are completely out of my control, it’s only available in the United States. Totally unrelated to that, I wonder if any of you non-American viewers have ever heard of VPN services like unblock-us.

So I really want everyone in the world to see my show, because I’m super proud of it and I think a lot of you will enjoy it. If you have to use some possibly questionable means to see it, I’m not going to try to stop you. BUT — if you can watch it in some way that the network can score (on broadcast or via one of the legally-supported websites), please do that, because the more people who watch it in a way the network can count, the more likely it is they will order a full season of the show.

This is a big day for me. Thank you to everyone who has helped make it possible.

You stand at the edge while people run you through

Everyone who has Depression experiences it in a different way, but I think it’s safe to say that all of us have days when it sits more heavily on us than others. I realized yesterday morning that I’ve been struggling under more depression and anxiety than usual for the last week or so without even being aware of it. Without realizing it, I’d gotten withdrawn and anxious, and because I didn’t really feel irritable, I wasn’t aware of how irritable I was.

I’ve described the metaphysical weight of depression as being similar to that lead apron the dentist puts on you when you get x-rays of your teeth, only it’s draped over your head and shoulders, and sometimes it even covers your face so you can’t see clearly. Without even knowing it’s happening, all you can see is whatever the depression wants to show you, and depression is a lying jerk.

So yesterday, with the kind and loving help of my wife, I realized how heavy my depression has been weighing on me lately. I don’t know exactly how or why it works, but yesterday, like all the other times I’ve realized that depression was doing its best to smother me, becoming aware of it made the weight of it just a little bit better. I still had a pretty rough day, but I also knew that I’d get better. It was like remembering where the light switch was, so I could turn a light on in a dark room, and see the way out of it.

A big part of realizing that I felt so much anxiety and its accompanying depression was figuring out why I felt that way, and I don’t think I could have done it without Anne’s support and patience.

We were sitting on the couch in the living room. The back doors were open, and birds chirped and sang in the back yard. I told her basically what I wrote above, and she said, “You were really angry about the paparazzi when you were in New York, and if your show is successful, that’s probably going to happen again and again.”

“That sounds awful,” I said.

“Yeah, but you can deal with it in a more constructive way that doesn’t make you so angry,” she said.

“I just hate that feeling of being trapped in a hotel, or not in control of my own …” I trailed off, because I had realized exactly why I got so angry, and why I’d been feeling so anxious and depressed for the last few weeks.

“I just realized that the feeling of being trapped, of not being in control of my own life, of feeling like I can’t just do my own thing is a massive emotional trigger for me, because it reminds me of how I felt so often when I was a kid.

“I hated all the press and attention and demands to be some kind of teen superstar, when all I wanted to do was be an actor.”

I described this picture to her, which I think was taken when I was 15. “I look at that, and I feel so sad for that kid. He’s scared, he’s uncomfortable, and he’s doing his best to just get through that moment so he can go back to whatever he was trying to do before a photographer shoved a camera in his face.

“I think I get so angry now because I’m not just upset that my current life was disrupted by these shitbags, but I’m also retroactively angry at how much they disrupted my life when I was a kid.” I looked at the floor for a long time. Our dog, Riley, walked over to me and shoved her face into my hands. I pet her and continued. “And then I get angry at the people who should have been looking out for me, who should have cared about how I was feeling and protected me, but who just told me to suck it up and deal with it because I had to.”

“That makes sense,” she said. “You’ve talked a lot about how you always felt like nobody listened to you when you were a kid, and how you felt like your feelings weren’t as important to the people around you as what they could get out of you.”

“Exactly. I’ve been working basically for myself for the last ten years, with occasional breaks to go work on shows where I feel like I’m working with people, and for the last month or so, I’ve felt like I’m working for people.”

I stopped scratching Riley’s chin, and she put her paw in my lap.

“Well … you kind of are.”

I looked at her.

“…and that’s okay,” she said. “I know you’re feeling overwhelmed, but this is a good thing, isn’t it?”

I lifted Riley’s paw off of me, and pointed to the floor. She lay down at my feet and sighed.

“…it is. I love the people I work with, and the network goons have all been really supportive and awesome. I guess I just … I don’t know how to feel. It’s really great, and it’s really scary, and there’s a lot at stake, and it’s fun, and I’m …”

I took a deep breath and frowned. “I’m afraid to enjoy it, because it probably won’t last.”

It felt good to say it out loud. It felt freeing. I’m supposed to pretend that we’re going to be some kind of massive success and we’re all gonna get laid, but I have done this long enough to know that nothing is certain, nothing is guaranteed, and Firefly was canceled because the network was stupid.

“And on the one hand, if it doesn’t last, all this press and attention that I don’t like goes away. But if it does last–”

“If it does last, you can let the work speak for itself like you want to, and you don’t have to do press, or go places you don’t want to go. But promoting it now is super important because you have to let people know your show exists so they can watch it.”

Riley rolled over on her back. Marlowe walked into the room and stretched out on the floor next to her.

“I know, and I feel like a jerk for having conflicting feelings about it. I guess I haven’t completely dealt with some unresolved childhood issues, and they’re getting stirred up in my stupid brain.”

My cat, Watson, jumped up into my lap and began to purr. He rubbed his face against my hand, then against my chin, and then began to groom my beard.

“I’m really grateful for everything we have, and I don’t mean to imply otherwise,” I said, around Watson’s catfood breath. “I just remember how I felt so unhappy so often when I was a kid, and I don’t want to feel that way again.”

“I know.”

I lifted Watson off of my chest and put him on the couch next to me. He rolled on his back and pushed his head into my thigh. I scratched his chin and his belly.

“I also know that I’ve been letting Depression make me feel like shit for the last month or so, and I know that Depression lies, so I’m probably just fixated on all the worst case stuff, and not paying enough attention to the awesome stuff.”

And the second those words came out of my mouth, it was like someone cast Dispel Depression. I felt the weight of it lift off of me. I saw the light switch in the room, and though I knew it would take a little bit of time before I could walk out, I at least saw the doorway.

I’m going to talk with a therapist about the unresolved emotional issues from when I was a kid, and I’m going to work even harder so that Depression can’t trick me into thinking all this incredibly awesome stuff that I get to do is something I can’t enjoy. It’s going to be a challenge — it always is — but I can do it, because I’ve done it before.

And you know what? It is going to be fun to make The Wil Wheaton Project. I know it will be fun, because it has already been fun, and I think I need to consider the two likely scenarios: if we only do 12, I get to go back to my normal life at the end of the summer after working with some really great people and doing something we’re proud of. If we end up doing more than that, I can let the work speak for itself, and I’ll learn to adjust to a new normal in my life, because the really valuable and important bits of my life — my wife, my kids, our home, burritos and beer — are going to be here no matter what I do for my job, and nobody can take them away from me, not even Depression.

“I feel a lot better,” I said. “Thanks for listening to me.”

“I love you,” she said.

“I love you too.”

 

Is there anybody out there?

I’m not quite sure why my blog was a plain white screen, or how long it was like that. Hopefully, writing a new post will kick whatever bits need to be kicked, and it’ll look like a website again when I press publish.

New York wasn’t as bad as expected, though I was harassed by paparazzi pretty much any time I tried to leave my hotel, and that really sucked. My pure, raging hatred for those people is well known, so I won’t dwell on it.

It’s very good to be home, to sleep in my own bed, cook my own meals, and walk in my own neighborhood. I pretty much fucked off all weekend, got caught up on some shows, and drank way too much beer because it was there and beer is delicious and nothing makes you want to have a third beer quite like a second beer.

Today, I did interviews for Carson Daly’s show, Larry King’s show, and the New York Post. I’m starting to get tired of the sound of my own voice, and I’m looking forward to getting The Wil Wheaton Project on the air so I can spend more time making the show and less time talking about making the show.

After my interviews were finished, I went to the office and watched some of the test show we taped last week so I could get feedback from the other producers and one of our consultants. It was sort of like what I imagine watching game day tapes would be like on a Monday morning. I’ve developed this skill over the years that lets me watch my work without feeling like I’m watching myself, so I can objectively critique the performance, and my overall impression from the tape was that this guy is having fun, he likes the audience, he’s relaxed, and I wouldn’t mind watching him be funny for the next twenty minutes. Hopefully, the rest of the audience will feel the same way, and in eight days, we’ll find out if they do.

waking up on the 40th floor

I’m on the 40th floor of a hotel that’s way too fancy for me. My room is bigger than my first apartment. A box next to the bed controls everything from the lights to the curtains to the music that seems to just appear out of thin air at the touch of a button.

Last night, I ate dinner in a restaurant that was way too fancy for me, and had the fanciest sidecar I’ve ever had. It had jalapeño in it.

I got to New York in one of the fanciest seats in the sky I’ve ever sat in. It could turn into a bed if I wanted, and it came with a TV.

In about an hour, someone is coming to my fancy hotel room to make me look fancier than I am, so I can go talk to the press about a new show — my new show — that the network is so excited about promoting, they put me in this fancy place to talk about it. If all this press works out, and enough people watch it, I may even get to do it for more than 12 episodes.

Tomorrow, I’ll go be fancy again, for pretty much all the press in the world, and then I get to go home to my wife and pets on Friday. I’ll spend the weekend with my family, in my house that I love, and I won’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do.

My new show, that I’ve been working on for over a year, premieres in less than two weeks, and even though we’ve been working on it for so long, it only began to feel real two days ago.

How did I even get this life? I will take none of this for granted. I will appreciate every good thing in my life, and keep working hard to earn those things. I am and will be grateful for everything in my life, even these things that feel too fancy and weird for me.

I keep expecting to wake up from all of this, which is probably why I can’t seem to sleep for more than 40 minutes at a time.

wil wheaton project tickets, music, tabletop, rampart

A couple quick things before I leave for work:

 

 

A Live Preview of the Wil Wheaton Project, in Hollywood this Sunday

I spent most of yesterday with my writers and producers, working on a script for The Wil Wheaton Project. We watched a ton of clips, and then worked out jokes that went with them. At one point, we were trying to make a funny joke even funnier than it was, and realized that we’d gotten “room drunk,” which is what happens when you’re having so much fun in the writer’s room, you just get completely goofy and too silly for the task at hand.

There’s a strange thing that happens in a writer’s room (at least a comedy writers’ room, based on my limited experience doing this show and several years of sketch comedy) where we’ll come up with something really hilarious, but nobody will laugh. Someone will just say, very calmly, “oh man, that’s really funny,” and we know that we have a winning joke or premise. Other times, we’re just riffing about bullshit, completely cracking each other up, and though we don’t get anything out of it that we can use directly, it’s an important part of the process that gets us to “oh man, that’s really funny.”

A lot of that happened yesterday, and though I was creatively, physically, and emotionally exhausted by the time I got home, it was a very good day.

Anne and I had dinner, shared a Ruination IPA, and watched The Americans (one of our very favourite shows on television) before we went to sleep early, because we were going to be picked up at 6:15 to go to the airport. Because our brains hate us, we couldn’t fall asleep until around 11, and we both woke up at 4:15am. Because that wasn’t enough, our brains wouldn’t let us sleep on the plane, and now it’s just about 9:30 here in our Undisclosed East Coast Location, where we will remain until Saturday.

Now to the important part of this post: Sunday, I am going to do a live show at the IO West in Hollywood, and I’d really love it if any of you reading this in Los Angeles would come to the show.

MY DETAILS LET ME SHOW YOU THEM:

Whether you’re a hardcore nerd or just dig Sci-fi, join us this May Fourth (Star Wars Day) for a special event at the iO West!

The Wil Wheaton Project premieres on the SYFY Channel May 27th, but you can catch a sneak peak with a special live performance with host Wil Wheaton May 4th 7pm at the iO West!

The Wil Wheaton Project covers the entire Sci-Fi umbrella with the latest news, as well as the best clips from TV, film, gaming and the web.

With special guest Jonah Ray (The Meltdown on Comedy Central)

http://www.syfy.com/wilwheaton

A lot of the stuff we’ve been working on for the last several weeks will be in this show, which is designed for us to try some things out in front of an audience, and get a sense of what does and doesn’t work. My instinct is that most of it will be really funny and entertaining, and even if some of it doesn’t work, the audience has my permission to give me a rousing BOOOOOO-URNS.

Now, listen, Internet, I know how this usually goes down: I say, “Hey, I’m doing a show in Los Angeles, and I hope you’ll come see it!” And instead of something like, “YES! WE WILL BE THERE AND BRING THREE FRIENDS AND ALSO BEER YOU LIKE” what usually happens is the Internet says, “Oh. Well. That’s great. Why aren’t you doing a show in $name.of.my-city.h?”

So I get it, that most of you aren’t in LA, and even if you are it’s a hassle to leave the house on a Sunday for a show that your favourite Internet scamp Wil Wheaton is performing, that won’t even take an hour, at a comedy club in Hollywood that has a great bar and even survived a car crashing right into it one time. I get that, and I want you to know that you get a free pass to miss this one, because of reasons.

But, seriously, if you’re in Los Angeles (or nearby) and you’d like to 1) get a sneak peek of what The Wil Wheaton Project is going to be like and B) help me, simply by being in the theater, to know how I’m doing, I would be ever so grateful.  The show starts at 7pm, and you’ll be on your way home by 8pm (unless you want to stay for the next show, which I hear is pretty great).

That said, this theater isn’t huge, and there’s a non-zero chance it’ll sell out, so if you want to go, I’d recommend getting your tickets now.

First Contact and The Wil Wheaton Project

My new show premieres a month from today, on the network that I like to call “the network formerly-known as Sci-Fi,” but since that makes people who changed its name mad at me, I won’t call it that in this post.*

Seriously I’m bolding this because it’s important: The Wil Wheaton Project premieres at 10pm EDT on Tuesday, May 27th, on Syfy™ Syfy: Imagine Greater, and also watch WWE.**

(All silliness aside, everyone I’ve been working with at Syfy has been super awesome, super supportive, and as excited about this project as I am. I wouldn’t feel okay making jokes at the network’s expense if I didn’t know that they have a good sense of humor. We shot some promos last week where they let me really rip some of their own programming, because we did it in a funny way, and not all networks would let us do something like that.)

Okay. So, to business:

I’ve been meeting with my staff of writers, segment producers, researchers, and other creative people a couple of times a week for the last month or so, and we’ve been figuring out what shows we love, what shows we hate, and deciding how we’ll cover those shows as their (and our)season unfolds.

There are scripted shows we love, like Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, and American Horror Story. There are scripted shows that are so awful, it’s almost hard to figure out which joke we’re going to make (see: pretty much everything on the CW). There are some really great things online that I’m not going to describe now because I want to keep them to myself, and then there are the vast numbers of unscripted paranormal “reality” shows that are so insanely horrible, they actually come back around the track and end up being good: Mountain Monsters, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Adventure Ghosts, Monster Ghosts On The Mountain Having An Adventure***.

When we get  together for these meetings, we watch clips that the creative team has found, and then we pitch jokes to each other. It’s a really fun process, where we’re basically watching hilariously bad stuff, and then seeing who can make the room laugh the hardest. It turns out that all the MST3K I watched in college was actually contributing to my education, and I’m using the skills it taught me to this day.

I’m super happy and grateful that I’m working with people who are funnier and smarter than I am, so I have to push myself to keep up with them. I’m already a better comedy writer than I was a month ago, and I’m pretty excited that I’m leveling up those skills.

A couple weeks ago, we were pitching ideas to each other,  and we came up with something we think will be really cool and probably pretty funny. It’s called First Contact.

The idea is for you to tell us a story about a memorable time you met someone famous who you looked up to or admired. Whether it was funny, awesome, awkward, awful, or some combination of them all, we want to hear it.

All of us on the creative team will go through anything you submit, and we’ll pick out a few of our favorites to be animated and recreated on the show. I’ve talked to some of my friends who are voice actors, and I’m super happy and excited that some of the very best actors in the business are going to be part of this.

We had to talk to lawyers and people who wear suits every day to get permission to do this, and they said that it was okay, as long as I said precisely the following:

This is what I need from you:

- We want to see you on camera telling the story.  

- Make sure you are talking directly to camera in a well lit room.

- Go someplace quiet with no noise and absolutely no music playing in the background.

- Your story must be true and authentic in describing the people and events that took place. No fibs, please.

- Please try to keep these stories under 2 minutes.  The shorter the better.

Once you’ve recorded your story, upload it to Youtube and send the link to HEYWWP at gmail dot com

Be sure to include any contact info so we can let you know if we plan on using your story.

Before you record, think about the details. I’m sure you were excited and nervous to meet your favorite celeb in real life.   Did it take courage to go up to him or her?   What was going through your head?  What did you say?  What did they say?  What about them surprised you?  How did it end?  Were your friends jealous?  

 

I’ll add that details about the time, place, and other environmental elements will give our animators stuff to work with. Speaking as a storyteller myself, I encourage you to get to the emotional center of the story as quickly as you can, because that’s how you connect to an audience. If you’d like an example of a first meeting that wasn’t particularly awesome, you can listen to my WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER story from w00tstock.

If you have any questions about this, ask them in comments and I’ll do my best to answer them as quickly as I can.

*OMG this hand that feeds me tastes SO GOOD!

**OMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOM please don’t cancel me before i even start i’ll be good i promise

***some of these don’t actually exist, but they could, with just a little bit of creative editing.

the cloneversation

About a year ago, my friend John Rogers and I walked to lunch, talking about how we’re living in a golden age of incredible scripted television. With very rare exceptions (Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, Castle) much of what’s on traditional broadcast networks isn’t particularly interesting to me, but the basic and pay cable channels are consistently producing programs that are so incredible, we’ll be talking about them decades from now. Shows like Mad Men, The Americans, Masters of Sex, Game of Thrones, Justified, and Boardwalk Empire are just a few of the compelling reasons to subscribe to cable, and I haven’t even gotten into the Doctor Whos and True Bloods of the world.

During this conversation, Rogers asked me if I was watching Orphan Black.

“I haven’t heard of it,” I said.

If we’d been listening to a record, it would have scratched straight across to the center. We got to a red light, and waited for it to change.

“You must stop everything you are doing and go directly to iTunes to buy it. It is one of the most amazing series, ever.”

“Those are pretty big words from guy who wrote Catwoman,” I said. (I kid. I kid. We have fun.) “So what’s the pitch?”

“A woman named Sarah is on a train, and when it pulls into the station, she sees another woman who is having a pretty bad time. That woman turns around and looks at Sarah, and she’s an identical twin.”

“Ohhhh twins,” I said. The light changed, and we crossed the street.

“Listen. She’s an identical twin, but before Sarah can say anything, she jumps off the platform and becomes part of a speeding train.”

“Holy shit.”

“Yes. So Sarah is like a punk or something, we’re not sure, but she needs money, right? She thinks for a second, grabs the dead woman’s bag, and assumes her identity.”

We got into the shade of a tall building. It was one of those days we have in LA where it’s miserably hot in the sun, but the shade is comfortable and soothing. “Oh, this sounds really cool!”

“It gets better. By the end of the pilot, we find out that the dead woman is a cop, and then we find out that she and Sarah and a bunch of other women are clones.” He looked sideways at me, knowing that he’d set the hook.

“Holy shit again.”

“And Tatiana Maslany, who plays all of the clones, is just fucking amazing. She will blow your mind, she is such an incredibly talented actor. By the second or third episode, you’ll forget that the same actor is playing all these different roles.”

“Wait. She acts in scenes with herself?!” We walked out of the shade and back into the sun. I squinted my eyes against it, and shaded them with my left hand.

“Yeah, and she does it in every episode,” he said. He landed me in the boat.

“This sounds incredible. How’s the writing?” We got to the restaurant, and I held the door open for him.

“It’s phenomenal. The storytelling is tight and crisp, the photography is great, and I know you’ll love it.” I imagined him standing on a dock, next to my body, strung up by my feet, posing for a picture with Actor Fishing Quarterly, a shit-eating grin on his face.

“Well, I am all over this. I’m buying it as soon as I get home.” I walked to the counter. “Burrito al pastor, extra spicy, no rice,” I said. I looked at Rogers. “Hashtag burrito watch.”

When I got home that afternoon, I went directly to iTunes and bought the series. I watched the first three episodes before I had to stop myself, because I knew that Anne would love it, and I’m always looking for something awesome for us to watch together.

Life happened, and we didn’t get to sit down with it for a month or so, when I saw that Season One of Orphan Black had been added to Amazon Prime Streaming. “You have to watch this show,” I said to Anne.

“You’re not the boss of me,” she said.

“You’re right. Let me try again. You’re going to love this, and I want to watch it together.” I didn’t give her any more details than that, because I thought it would be fun for her to discover the clone situation on her own.

I was right, and we binged the entire series over the next three days. We’ve been counting down to the start of the second season ever since.

I’m telling this story today, because I got super lucky, and was invited by BBC America to host the season 2 kickoff show next week!

But check this out: For my job, I get to meet and talk with and geek out all over Tatiana Maslany and the cast of Orphan Black. Orlando Jones and Patton Oswalt will also be there, and it’s called The Cloneversation.

… THE CLONEVERSATION, CARL!

Here’s a video trailer BBC America made for the show:

The Cloneversation airs at 8pm Eastern/Pacific on April 12, on BBC America. Orphan Black’s second season begins on April 19 at 9pm on BBC America.

Oh, and speaking of television, I’ll be on yours tonight (if you’re in the US or Canada) in a new episode of The Big Bang Theory, where I got to do what I think is the single funniest things I’ve ever done on television.

Announcing The Wil Wheaton Project

About a year ago, I had a meeting with a production company, who wanted me to host a show for them. The concept was simple, I thought it had the potential to be incredibly funny, and I really liked the people I met with.

“I can’t just be a host, though,” I explained. “I’ve been producing Tabletop for two seasons, and if I’m going to be the public face of a show, I need to have a hand in its creative direction. I want to write for it, and I need to be a producer.” Over the last couple of years, I’ve done more and more work off camera, and I’ve learned a lot about how shows come together and develop in the writer’s room and the editing bay. I love being an actor on camera, but it feels very much like I’m doing a small part of the overall production. If I was going to host a show, and if I was going to be the face of that show, I needed to do more than just stand in front of the camera and read lines. I wanted to help make the show.

“Of course,” the head of the company said to me, like I’d just told him that I’d need to breathe air during production. “We want to do this together.”

That was all I needed to hear. We agreed on the general idea, and spent the next several months working out the specific details of the show. About six months later, we went to the network to pitch it.

Pitching a show to a network is weird. You take your creative team to their offices, and then you sit across from a bunch of executives and tell them why they should buy your show. It’s sort of like an audition, but instead of just giving a performance, there’s an intense Q&A after (and sometimes during), and you have to be able to think quickly, and be prepared for anything. It could be very stressful, but this particular meeting wasn’t stressful for me, at all. I believed in the concept of the show, and I knew that it could be really cool if the network would trust our ideas and let us make it.

The pitch meeting went very well, and it turns out that the network trusted our ideas, and pay for us to make a pilot.

“Did you want to make a pilot that we could air, or would you prefer to do a non-airable pilot?” The head guy asked us.

“We’d much prefer to make something that doesn’t have to go on the air,” I said, “so we can show you all the different concepts and pieces.”

“Okay,” he said, “go and make your best pilot, and we won’t worry about putting it on the air.”

I couldn’t believe how … well, easy the whole thing was. Unlike auditions, where I often feel like the other people in the room are sitting back and just waiting for me to leave, the network executives I met with that day last year were engaged, enthusiastic, interested, and seemed genuinely excited about the show. As the creative team — now my creative team — and I walked out of the building, one of them said to me,  “that’s the best pitch meeting I’ve ever been part of.”

“Really?” I said. This guy’s done hundreds of pitch meetings.

“Yeah. You did great.”

“I guess it’s easy when you really believe in something and are excited about it, huh?”

“I guess it is!”

Another few months went by, and we continued to work on the show, refining it and pitching ideas to each other. We hired some great writers and segment producers, and spent lots of time making each other laugh, finding out what bits worked and didn’t, and trying to come up with a name for the show (that turned out to be the hardest part of the whole process).

Then, about three weeks before we were going to shoot our pilot, disaster struck: the network executive who green lit the project was out, and our show was probably gone with him.

In the entertainment industry, it’s not uncommon for executives to move around, but when that happens, any projects they had approved are always killed. The reasoning goes that the new person who takes over won’t want to keep any of the old person’s projects, because they don’t want the old person to get any credit for anything. Lots of really great projects have died this way over the years, and I was pretty sure that my show would join them.

I called the production company, and asked if we were finished before we had even really started.

“No! The network loves you and loves this idea,” he said, “and the new guy is apparently a fan of your work, so we’re still on target to make the pilot.”

I couldn’t believe it. It spoke volumes about the new guy’s character and confidence, and it said something pretty good about our idea, too.

Do you remember the day photoshopwilwheaton.tumblr.com was born, the day I took a stupid picture of myself and said that I was working in front of a green screen all day? That was the day we filmed our pilot.

It felt so weird to feel a mixture of excitement and nervousness as I walked into the stage and met the crew. I feel so comfortable with my Tabletop crew, and I know the crew at The Big Bang Theory so well, to meet and work with a crew I would probably only see for one day was a new experience for me. Would they like the show as much as we did? Would they laugh at our jokes? What would I do if they didn’t? In the fifty or so steps it took me to get from the stage door to my mark, the magnitude of what we were doing — the culmination of months of hard work — and what was at stake for us threatened to paralyze me. When I got to my mark, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that a lot of smart and funny people had helped get me to that very moment. I told the familiar voices of Self Doubt and You Really Suck, Wheaton, to shut up and let me do my work. I looked up at the camera and said, “Hi, I’m Wil Wheaton, and this is The Wil Wheaton Project.”

Just like that, all the nerves and doubts went away. I didn’t think about all the risks and all the ways I could screw up. I just had fun doing the work we’d written. I made the crew laugh over and over again, I amused myself, and I made the writers and producers laugh. We shot hours of stuff, knowing that it would get cut down to just 21 minutes, and by the end of the day I was creatively, emotionally, and physically exhausted. It felt great.

On my way to my dressing room, one of the network executives who had come to the set to watch stopped me. She told me how much she loved it, how funny she thought it was, how much she liked me as the host, and that she wanted to get it on the air right away.

“Thank you,” I said, unsure how much salt I should be using to season the effusive praise, “I had a lot of fun, and I’m really glad you liked it.”

“Well I loved it, and I hope that we get to do this together for years.” She said it with so much kindness and sincerity, I put my mental salt shaker away without using a single grain.

Imagine a montage here, of editing and more editing and even more editing. Imagine that the camera dollies across a room filled with network people, their faces illuminated by the flicker of a television that we can’t see. Some of them are laughing, others are stoic, most of them are smiling. We get the impression that they like what they see. Now we cut to me doing various things, like walking my dogs, homebrewing beer, doing some Rocky-like training for some reason.  Days and then weeks go by on a superimposed page-a-day calendar. the pages fly off while I call and email my production company to find out if we’ve been picked up. The camera cuts to a time lapse shot, high over Hollywood, as the sun tracks across the sky, the traffic ebbs and flows, and city comes alive at night. That shot has nothing at all to do with the narrative, really, I just think it looks cool. The montage ends as I pick up my phone to make one more call.

“So, it’s been a long time and we haven’t heard anything,” I say to my executive producer, “should I just assume that it didn’t work out?”

“What do you mean?” He says. “They picked us up for 12 episodes. We’re in pre-production!”

“Wait. What?”

“Nobody told you?”

I recalled the last conversation I’d had with the head of the company, a week before. I replayed it, and realized that I’d misunderstood him.

“The last I heard was that they liked it, but I thought that they hadn’t given us the official pick up.”

“Oh no. They love us. They love you!”

I felt this strange mixture of excitement and embarrassment, wrapped up in a blanket of silly.

“I have to say, this is the strangest way I’ve ever found out that something I did got picked up by the network.” I laughed, and we made plans to meet so we could discuss the writers and producers we’d bring on for the full three month production process (and hopefully years more, if the network likes us enough to keep us going.)

I hung up my phone, and then it hit me. I mean, it really hit me: the show we’d worked almost a year to make, the show that I’d thought was dead but wasn’t more than once, was actually going to happen. For at least twelve weeks this summer, I’d be hosting a weekly show on television, and I’d get to help write and produce it.

I whooped and hollered and ran around my house, while my dogs tried to figure out why I had the zoomies hours before they usually got them at 5:30pm every day.

Imagine another montage that serves to pass some more time, and ends with us having a meeting with the new guy at the network. Probably include another one of those time lapse shots of a city at night that I think are so cool, but this time a couple of thunderstorms blow over, because those look really neat in time lapse.

“I have to tell you,” the new guy says to us, “that a lot of people have tried to crack this particular nut, and nobody has ever been able to make the show you brought us work.”

We wait for him to continue, and he does, “But this is the funniest pilot in this genre that I’ve ever seen. You guys did a great job!”

I exhale, and thank him. We spend about an hour with him and the rest of his team, making sure we all know exactly what the show is going to be. We talk about what worked and what didn’t work in the pilot, discover that we all agree on those points (a huge bonus for all of us, because it means we see the show the same way), and by the time we’re finished we’re all excited to get the show on the air.

We’re not going to do another montage, because I have to publish this in fifteen minutes and I don’t have time. Let’s just do a simple time cut to me, sitting in my office wearing my Captain Kirk pajamas, writing this out. Marlowe is sleeping underneath my desk, and Seamus is quietly grumbling at me from the couch behind me, because they should have been given their breakfast an hour ago, but I’ve been writing nonstop since I woke up.

This is the part where I finally stop describing the process of creating this show and bringing it to life, and actually tell you what it is, and where and when you can see it.

The show will be on the network formerly known as Sci-Fi, and it is called The Wil Wheaton Project. It premieres on May 27th at 10pm.

The Wil Wheaton Project is a weekly roundup of the things I love on television and on the Internet, with commentary and jokes, and the occasional visit from interesting people who make those things happen. It’s sort of like Talk Soup for geeks, with a heavy focus on those hilariously bad paranormal reality shows (in fact, that’s where the whole thing started a year ago, but as we worked on the show more and more, we discovered that there were lots of scripted paranormal shows that provided a ton of comedic material. When we expanded to cover the scripted shows, we discovered that nobody was doing a show like this that was just focused on the genre shows that nerds like us love, and we decided that we’d make that show because of reasons.)

The official network announcement will be coming out a little later this morning, but I’ll put a little bit of it here, because I can:

Syfy has greenlit the 12-episode summer series, The Wil Wheaton Project (working title), a weekly topical comedy show hosted by actor and champion of geek culture Wil Wheaton.  The 30-minute show will offer a funny, fast-paced exploration and celebration of science fiction and genre entertainment.  The series premieres Tuesday, May 27 at 10PM ET/PT on Syfy.
Each week, Wil provides his insider point-of-view, sense of humor and expertise as he dissects the week’s most popular and trending topics across sci-fi film, television and pop culture, as well as video games, viral videos and news. Wil is on his feet for the rapid-fire half hour, delivering sharp, straight-to-camera commentary as he riffs his way through content clips. The result is a fun appreciation for all things science fiction.

I really love that I get to be part of something that brings Science Fiction back to Syfy, and if I read correctly between the lines during our meetings with the Syfy executives, this is just the beginning of the network formerly known as Sci-Fi returning to its science fiction roots, which is awesome. Developing the show has been incredibly fun, and like I wrote last week, when I met the full staff of writers and producers, I was floored by how talented and funny they are. We’re going to make something that I just know you’re going to love, and I hope that so many people love it, we’ll get to make it for years to come.

If you have questions about the show, the process of bringing it to television, or anything related to it, ask them here and I’ll do my best to answer all of them.

UPDATE: A couple FAQs have emerged, so let me answer them.

Q: Will this be online?

A: I don’t know, but I hope so. I’m pushing everyone who will listen to me to put episodes online, but ultimately that isn’t my decision.

Q: Will this air in [country that is not the US]?

A: I don’t know, but I hope so. That’s a decision that the network will make.

Q: Will this mean no more Tabletop?

A: No! I made sure that everyone knew I’d be doing Tabletop, and I made sure that my contract included language that would guarantee my ability and availability to make Tabletop.

Q: When will you know if you get more then twelve episodes?

A: I think we’d know about halfway through the summer, but I can’t say for sure. I’m pretty sure that if enough people watch and like the show, the network will order more episodes.