MySpace, Fox and the Producer’s Guild of America jointly announced the winners of The Storyteller Challenge this week. The contest was billed as a way to find Hollywood’s next great producer, and promised the opportunity for a development deal with Fox. Development deals were offered, but neither of the winning pilots are being put into production any time soon.
Nick Hagen’s demon-exorcising mockumentary The Paranormalists and Will Hartman’s Tough Love, about a fed-up Cupid (“Darryl” from The Office!) won the contest’s grand prize: $25,000 each and a first-look development deal with FOX, which has the exclusive rights to both properties for a year. The exact details of the contract are complicated, but basically if either Hagen or Hartman has an idea for a new show, they have to run it by Fox first.
A spokesperson for Fox did not provide a reason as to why the network passed on producing the projects, but Hagen believes that the decision was heavily influenced by the writers’ strike. “The crunch has been put on the town down there,” he said. “They’re not really taking chances on people who aren’t well established already.”
Hartman echoed that sentiment. “The WGA is holding sway over any development happening,” he said. Hartman even called the guild when he found out he was a finalist. “I didn’t want to be one of those guys who gets an opportunity at the expense of someone else,” he explained. But given that it was a contest he entered pre-strike — and since Hartman is not a WGA member — the guild gave him its blessing.
So the fact that his pilot is not going into production is a major letdown. “You know, the $25,000 is a nice prize,” her said. “But that’s not why I entered. I wanted to get my foot in the door.”
For now, the winners must wait out the strike to see if anything will come of their projects. Thanks to the contest, Hagen is in the process of getting an agent, and Hartman has a couple of other short films making their way through the festival circuit. Both still have big Hollywood dreams…and an extra $25,000.