082 – “Fuller House” Showrunner Steve Baldikoski

082 – “Fuller House” Showrunner Steve Baldikoski

Steve Baldikoski is an Emmy nominated Showrunner known for Fuller House. He's also worked on Last Man Standing, Glenn Martin D.D.S., Wilfred, and Kristie. Join Michael Jamin and Steve Baldikoski for a conversation about how Steve broke in and what it takes to make it in Hollywood

Show Notes

Steve Baldikoski on IMDB - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0049747/

Steve Baldikoski on Twitter - https://twitter.com/finchbot2000

Free Writing Webinar - https://michaeljamin.com/op/webinar-registration/

Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

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Automated Transcripts

Steve Baldikoski:
I mean, you're, you are sort of clued in to, to what your boss likes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you also have your own tastes. You, you kind of know what the project is supposed to be. I, I, yeah, I don't know. There, there's no formal executive school on how to give notes. That's why it's kind, it's kind of a weird job because there's no training for it. I don't really necessarily know what makes you good or not good.

Michael Jamin:
You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome to another episode of Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I got another great guest today. This is my old buddy, Steve Bobowski. Steve has written on some of the, some of your favorite shows, as long as your show's favorite shows are <laugh>,

Steve Baldikoski:
As long as they're, as long as you have Terrible Taste <laugh> and only watch shows that are gone after 13 episodes, and

Michael Jamin:
Then, then these are your favorite shows. But I'm gonna start, I'm gonna, in no particular order of, of, I think I'm going in order Teenager Working. Remember that show Dag with David Allen Greer Baby Bob. Oh, we're gonna talk about Baby Bob. Okay. Yeah. A U s A. Andy Richter controls the universe. People like that show a lot. I, I'm with her or I'm with her. I'm with her. I'm with her.

Steve Baldikoski:
I'm with

Michael Jamin:
Her. I'm with her <laugh>. Eight. Eight Simple Rules. The New Adventures of Old Christine. That was a good show. The Jake Effect. Big Shots. True. Jackson, I forgot you worked that out. Wilfred. Which you could thank me for Glenn Martin d s, which you could thank me for Kirsty, which I can thank you for. Last Man Standing, whatever, <laugh>.

Steve Baldikoski:
Yeah. They don't have anyone to thank for that.

Michael Jamin:
Thank for that.

Steve Baldikoski:
Save Me.

Michael Jamin:
Jennifer Falls, Ned and Stacy. And then of course, you were the executive producer and showrunner of Fuller House, the Full House remake. Steve, welcome to the big show,

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh>. Thank, thank you for having me. It's very exciting to be here.

Michael Jamin:
Wasn't it exciting, man? Oh man. Oh, and I have to say, so yeah, so we started out my partner and I hired Steve and his partner Brian, on, on Glenn Martin dds. And we were always very grateful. These guys turned in great drafts and we were always extremely grateful. Yeah, thank you. And then we would just shovel more work as, as for gratitude, we would just shovel more scripts in your face. Write this one now,

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh>, that was one of the highlights of my career. That was some of the best times I've ever had.

Michael Jamin:
We had some, you know, it's funny, I asked Andy Gordon in in a, in a previous episode, I said, and I'll ask you the same question. If you had, if you could go back in time and either remake any of the shows you did worked on, or like rebooted or just work on it again, what, what would they be? Any,

Steve Baldikoski:
I thought you were gonna tell me. Andy's answer <laugh>. Andy

Michael Jamin:
Said if you want, Andy said, just shoot me. And true. Jackson

Steve Baldikoski:
Uhhuh <affirmative>. I, I, Glen Martin was a highlight, and and I think it was an underappreciated show,

Michael Jamin:
Certainly was. And

Steve Baldikoski:
If, if it weren't in Claymation, maybe someone would've watched it.

Michael Jamin:
You know, we went on the internet, Seabert and I, my partner and I, we went on the internet and we found some guy talking about Glen Martin. And it was as if he was in the writer's room. It was as if he was, because he, he was right on the money <laugh>. Like he knew what was good about it, what was bad about it. He had theories as to why <laugh>,

Steve Baldikoski:
I think you, you talking about Alex Berger, the creator,

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>, it wasn't Alex. It was something like, it was something like Whacko on the internet, but boy, he was dead on. He was like, he knew exactly what he was talking about.

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh>. Well, one, one weird thing that that happened to me, this is slightly related. When, when Brian, my old writing partner and I took over for house in the last couple of seasons, it was right before the final season, and it was after Lori Locklin had her college
Issues, legal issues with varsity Blues. On April Fool's Day, there was this article in some Likee News or something where someone did a whole, it was a fake interview with me, but it seemed like it was real. And the reasonings that they were talking about getting rid of Lori's character and what would happen after, you know, she was divorced from Uncle Jesse on Fuller House. W it was so well thought out that it, I thought it had to be written by also someone in the room, Uhhuh, because they actually knew like, specific arguments that specific writers had in getting rid of this person. And then it turns out, only if you clicked the very bottom did it say April Fools. And it was all phony interview with me,

Michael Jamin:
But still they got it. Right. But it

Steve Baldikoski:
Was, it, it was so eerie that it was, it was probably probably had better reasons to include her or not include her than we did. So there are a lot of fans out there who understand the shows just as well as the writers Do.

Michael Jamin:
I, I think so. I, I think even on, people talk about King of the Hill and they remember episodes. I'm like, I don't remember that one. And then they look it up and go, I, I worked on it. I don't tell me what happened. It's like, I don't remember it. You know, it's from, you know, very important to some of these people. And you know, they, they, they watch it all the time. And I haven't watched it in 20 years. But

Steve Baldikoski:
But did you, there was a moment where when on Wilfrid where David Zuckerman, the creator didn't even know that he had a logic fallacy in the first episode. Do you know the story? No. I think he was at Comic-Con and he, he was, he, it it was about the pilot of Wilfred where Wilfred is trying to get through the fence and a regular dog would crawl through the fence, but instead Wilfred has an ax.

Michael Jamin:
Right. And

Steve Baldikoski:
And then they said, well, shouldn't I take the ax from Wilf Fred because it's dangerous? And then David said, wisely said, no, you can't grab the ax cuz that means the ax is real. And the second he said that someone in the audience held their hand up and said, well, what about the Bong? Yeah,

Michael Jamin:
What about the Bong? Yeah.

Steve Baldikoski:
And David had never considered that.

Michael Jamin:
Well,

Steve Baldikoski:
But Jar, that was fascinating that, that he, they had never thought of it on set, but out there. Got him instantly

Michael Jamin:
Etro gave a headache to write and remember, like, what, who, and then, and then your part of Brian's like

Steve Baldikoski:
That, that anecdote gave me a headache to mention.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, it was, I remember he just like, don't you think people just wanna see the dog dance

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh>?

Michael Jamin:
See the dog dance? That was his pitch. <Laugh>. Oh man. Oh my God, what a show. But did you ever,

Steve Baldikoski:
This whole section is even inside Wilf Fred.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, it is inside Wilfred.

Steve Baldikoski:
I don't think anyone would appreciate that. But did you

Michael Jamin:
Ever, even when you were running Fuller house, did you, did you ever turn to the, what do the fans want? Did you turn to the, because there's a lot of pressure

Steve Baldikoski:
On that actually, I have to say. That was a huge part of Fuller House and it was one of the things I think that the audience loved. And it was a unique situation for me because I had, still, to this day, I've seen two and a half episodes of the original full House.

Michael Jamin:
Uhhuh <affirmative>.

Steve Baldikoski:
So I didn't know anything about Full House, but other people did. And so if we would want to throw in, we call them Easter eggs, right? Throw in little Easter eggs and bring back, you know, some character that was in an, in a single episode 30 years ago, we would bring those actors back and the audience would go bananas. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
But how, how can, you didn't watch any old episodes or, you know, there's so much,

Steve Baldikoski:
Why, why didn't I, or

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, why didn't you?

Steve Baldikoski:
Well part of it is I, I didn't want to actually be beholden to any of the other of the old stories.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Steve Baldikoski:
Because I mean, even, you know, like Fuller House is a little bit of an old fashioned show, but we didn't wanna make it just like completely stuck in the past and, and a show that is only about, that's referencing the original show. And that was more helpful to just have a perspective of like, what's it like raising, you know, three kids in, you know, modern day California.

Michael Jamin:
But did you feel a, a strong, I guess, obligation to make sure the fans were happy? Cuz I'm show the writers are writing for themselves.

Steve Baldikoski:
Oh, oh, for sure. We were doing that constantly and you know, we, we knew it. There were certain things that were like, you know, throwing red meat to the audience.

Michael Jamin:
Oh.

Steve Baldikoski:
You know, kind of like, like, like if you're doing the show Fuller House, no. You know, no matter what the story you're doing is, or whatever, if you have to, you bring in a dog wearing sunglasses and the audience goes bananas. And then how do you talk? And a, a baby runs in wearing the same sunglasses.

Michael Jamin:
Mm-Hmm.

Steve Baldikoski:
<Affirmative> and then just the, the audience like tears of joy in the audience

Michael Jamin:
Because that's, that, that was an old staple in the original show, stuff like that.

Steve Baldikoski:
Yeah. I mean, that's just the kind of thing that they would stoop to, you know, <laugh>. And so, no, but it was, but it was this, it was this, the Four House is a show that like, you know, it really, it really affected me as a writer cuz it was really that time when every week there were 200 fans in the audience. Super fans who knew every single episode of Full House and Fuller House. And so you would get this amazing instant recognition from the audience that you're writing for them.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Steve Baldikoski:
Especially when you would have those little Easter eggs and you don't get that on a lot of shows.

Michael Jamin:
Right. You

Steve Baldikoski:
Know, like I, you know, may maybe on your Just Shoot Me you would have just shoot me fans, but every seat every week was a super fan.

Michael Jamin:
No. The weird thing about Just Shoot Me, you know, cause we was, we were there the first four years and the, the first season, probably the first two seasons that the audience, they weren't fans, they were hostages. There was people who came from Free Pizza, <laugh>, you can tell they wouldn't wanna be there. <Laugh>. And they know the show

Steve Baldikoski:
Prisoners,

Michael Jamin:
Prison Prisoners,

Steve Baldikoski:
You're sailors in for Fleet Week.

Michael Jamin:
It's basically that. I mean, people listening, it's like you show up on Hollywood Boulevard and they hand out tickets, Hey, who wants to see a taping of the show? And then anyone would show up and they would stay warm, <laugh> cause anybody to get outta the rain. But

Steve Baldikoski:
These, no, these were people who came from not just around the country, but from literally around the world to see the show. Yeah. And they would th these people would center their vacation on coming to the show. And, and so, you know, I I mean I, it was also amazing to be able to, like, after the show, you know, if you knew who the people were you would bring them down and, and they would just get a kick out of walking around the set. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And that was another kind of highlight every week was, you know, having these people, you know, have this awesome experience that they've grown up with these characters in this set. And then they're running around on the set, you know, now that they're grown up and they've got kids who, who like the shows.

Michael Jamin:
Now this set was a repeat that wasn't,

Steve Baldikoski:
That was kind of amazing cuz you would, it it wasn't just, it wasn't just fans, it was two generations of fans. Right. You know, it was like people who are sort of our age and then they're kids. Right. And, and so, you know, when network people talk about family co-viewing, it really was that it was, you know, parents who still love the show,

Michael Jamin:
But it wasn't the set was a remake. Right. It wasn't the actually,

Steve Baldikoski:
It, it was a remake. But I'll I'll tell you, and this is also part of the weird experience coming onto the show, cuz neither, you know, I had no appreciation really for a full house at the time. So before the first show, and this was the entire first season before it aired on Netflix there was a curtain covering the set. And before they would announce the actors, they would, they would lift the curtain like it, like it was like at the theater. Right. And the first time for the shooting the pilot, when they revealed that to the audience, people burst into tears.

Michael Jamin:
Wow.

Steve Baldikoski:
Just seeing the set and the couch looking just like it did in the eighties. And the way they really, really mimicked the original set, you know, to the Inch cuz they had the original plans. It was amazing to see people moved by a set.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I bet. I

Steve Baldikoski:
Bet. And yeah. And so, so that was pretty unusual. And then any line would get, even a mediocre line would get an aureus laugh from the audience cuz they were all, they've been waiting for 25 years to see this moment.

Michael Jamin:
Now, I imagine you had some of the writers in the show who grew up with watching the original Fall House, who knew more about the show than, than you did? Who?

Steve Baldikoski:
Oh, oh yeah. Yeah. For sure. And that's why also I felt I didn't need to see the show that much. I'm not recommending people shouldn't do homework <laugh>.

Michael Jamin:
Now, one of the things that shocked me when we, when we were working with you, this is long, many years ago, and maybe it was only a season one or something. You shocked me when you said that you, at one point you were, you started as a network executive. I was like, you what? What

Steve Baldikoski:
Well, yeah, Stu, a studio, executive

Michael Jamin:
Studio. So

Steve Baldikoski:
Sorry. Yeah. Yeah. I was, I was I was like a director of comedy development at Universal.

Michael Jamin:
And so tell tell us what, what that means. What

Steve Baldikoski:
Do, should I go back further? Could go

Michael Jamin:
Back to where you wanna start

Steve Baldikoski:
To that point. I mean, I never, I never set out to be a writer. I don't even know if you know any of my origin story about this stuff. Oh. I never really set out to be a writer. I always loved TV, but I also love music in, in movies. But didn't even know I was gonna get into the entertainment business until I was trying to blow a year or two before I would get a little bit of work experience and then back to go to law school. You were gonna law school get an mba and I was never gonna be a part of the entertainment industry, but I just lucked into what turned out to be a great job in the mail room at United Talent Agency, uta. And it was like this moment that U t A was on the rise and I, yeah, I was in the mail room where I'm literally working 80 hours a week delivering mail and reading scripts for free and writing coverage, doing that for five months. Then I got on a desk, I worked for Nancy Jones and Jay Surs.

Michael Jamin:
Oh boy.

Steve Baldikoski:
I was their first assistants at United Talent, I believe. And then and then I knew it wasn't for me cuz it was really cutthroat. Yes. I, I was learning what I didn't want to do. And working a traditional office that led to I got a job in development. I worked at Aaron Spelling Productions, and then that job got me wait, how

Michael Jamin:
Did you get a job in development? Cause it's, it is hard to make the transition from being an assistant at a desk to having a non-a job anywhere.

Steve Baldikoski:
Oh, oh. I, I was still an assistant for Oh, okay. Years. I was an assistant for spelling for one year. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, then I was an assistant. I worked for Jamie Tarsus at b c. Right. And that's, and that was kind of the, the, the pivotal moment in my career. Cuz kind of anyone who was Jamie Tarsus assistant moved on to become the next executive. Right. And so that kind of became my path. I was, I, I never set out to do this, but I just kept at getting a job that was just better than the last one. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I never had the reason to go back to law school. Right. And it was just like they kept on dragging me back in with a slightly better job. So this one year I spent as Jamie's assistant at N B C Frazier had been bought, but not shot.
And then Jamie bought friends that year. I can't remember the names of the other shows, but but like, you know, being on set at the pilot of Friends was really that pivotal moment for me where I thought, oh, th this is, you know, really what I wanna do. Like, and I was on the path to be an executive, but I really would look over and the writers seemed to be having a lot more fun. And that's where I, I didn't really even know it, but that was, that was my path to be to being a writer was just kind of hanging out at N B C and, and seeing how things, you know, being a part of. But even

Michael Jamin:
When you were an executive development exec, were you thinking, I want to be a writer? Or were you thinking No, no,

Steve Baldikoski:
Not really. I, I knew like, the executive path was like, was fine and I did that. And on the executive path, when you're no longer an assistant, you get bumped up and you get the office and it was very kind of, there were a lot of fancy trappings. I would wear a suit and I'd drive around all the networks trying to sell co half hour comedies to the networks. And it was it was a good job. But there was just something I still kept on looking at, you know, the writers who were on the floor and thought they were having more fun.

Michael Jamin:
But Do you, and you were giving notes to writers Yes. As <inaudible> executive. Do you at any point feel like, I don't really, how might, who might I be giving notes to a writer when they

Steve Baldikoski:
Oh, I, I, I felt that all the time. And because I felt that, cuz I kind of had so much respect for what the writers did. Yeah. That it was, it was hard for me to give as many notes. Cuz I thought the writer probably already had thought these things through

Michael Jamin:
Uhhuh <affirmative>.

Steve Baldikoski:
But where were you

Michael Jamin:
Getting your notes from then?

Steve Baldikoski:
What's that?

Michael Jamin:
Where were you getting your notes from? Where were you getting your opinions from?

Steve Baldikoski:
Well, I, I have opinions just like, I

Michael Jamin:
Wouldn't have, I wouldn't have when I was starting it out, I go, I don't know. That's fine to me.

Steve Baldikoski:
I mean, you're, you're sort of clued in to, to what your boss likes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you also have your own tastes. You, you kind of know what the project is supposed to be. I, yeah, I don't know. There, there's no formal executive school on how to give notes. That's why it's kind, it's kind of a weird job because there's no training for it. I don't really necessarily know what makes you good or not good.

Michael Jamin:
And some, a lot of it is just opinion. But I I sometimes you'll get the same notes and which are fair, which is a, you know, start the story journal, whatever. That's a great note that you're always, this is totally valid note. But sometimes I, you know, I've been in meetings and you're like, you get a note, you're like, but that's just your opinion. This doesn't make it better or worse.

Steve Baldikoski:
Yes. And, and I mean, obviously, you know, that's something you, you will struggle with till the end of time. Yeah. But, but I also always go back to, you know, I, I think there's a, there's a cartoon about this at, at some point, but, but like, if Shakespeare handed an Hamlet, his agent would give him notes. Yeah. And he would say, Hamlet is inactive. Yeah. And then you would make him Mae swashbuckling hero.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Right. Yes.

Steve Baldikoski:
And that would ruin Hamlet. So, so like, you know, and, and the problem is that like, the, that agent's note would be a well, well-guided note.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Hamlet, that is

Steve Baldikoski:
A mm-hmm. <Affirmative> is a valid thing for him to say, but it also ruins the inherent art of the piece. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
You know? Yeah. Had a kick. But

Steve Baldikoski:
Then not that writing Glen Martin was the equivalent of Shakespeare

Michael Jamin:
In many ways. But it was

Steve Baldikoski:
Pretty close.

Michael Jamin:
It was a little higher

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh>. But <laugh>,

Michael Jamin:
We had some fun on that show. But and then when, when you wanted to make the transition, I don't know how, how, how do you do, how did you do that?

Steve Baldikoski:
So, so, and once, like, and this is just my case, it was shockingly not that hard. My who became my writing partner was one of my best friends in college. And Brian had always wanted to be a sitcom writer. And just kind of had, kind of flamed out a couple of times. And then he was living in San Francisco and having a really excellent career as a, as an advertising copywriter. And I called him up and I told him I wanted to write sitcom with him. And he said no. And then he say he changed his mind.

Michael Jamin:
Why did he say no?

Steve Baldikoski:
Cuz I said, fine, I'm, if you don't write it with me, I'm gonna write it with Sue Ale <laugh>.

Michael Jamin:
Oh,

Steve Baldikoski:
Funny. That's a true story. She wasn't,

Michael Jamin:
Sue wasn't an Sue Nagle who later went on to run H B O and then and Ana and you know, she, she's big, but she, at the time she was, she was, she

Steve Baldikoski:
Was not yet an agent or she was a very young one. And we, but

Michael Jamin:
She didn't wanna write,

Steve Baldikoski:
Did she? So then we got together <laugh> and to go to a coffee place to brainstorm. And we got into a, we didn't even make it to the coffee place before we got into a huge argument

Michael Jamin:
Over what?

Steve Baldikoski:
Oh, I don't, I don't remember

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>. This partnership's not going well,

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh>. No, he was, he was not. But, but if you can't make it to the place where you're supposed to think <laugh>, then it's probably a doom partnership. So anyway, Brian said yes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And then so over the phone we wrote a spec news radio back when people still did that. Yep. And News Radio had just been on the air. So we wanted to write a show that we loved and also that there weren't a ton of samples of other specs like that. Right. So we, this news radio early on and I gave it to Sue Nagle, she liked it. She gave it to Michael Whitehorn at Ned and Stacy. And we had one meeting Brian flew in from San Francisco. I showed up in my suit from being in an executive. I had to sneak out from Universal and not tell him where I was going. Did

Michael Jamin:
Michael White hard know you were an executive at the time? Yes, he did. He

Steve Baldikoski:
Didn't think, but, but, but that was actually kind of a good thing because Brian was an ad executive. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and Ned of Ned and Stacy Right. Was an ad executive. And then also cuz I had, you know, funny corporate stories I think Michael liked that as well. And the fact he gets two people for a staff writer's salary.

Michael Jamin:
Were you afraid to leave your cushy job?

Steve Baldikoski:
Less so than Brian. I, if, if I flamed out, I could always go back to being an executive and, you know, that would be fine. Right. And, and in hindsight, that probably would've been the best thing that happened, everyone.

Michael Jamin:
But Yeah. I mean, it

Steve Baldikoski:
Wouldn't be here talking to you. I, I, I'd be living in Bermuda by now, <laugh>.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, well, you know, learn.

Steve Baldikoski:
Yes. So, but unfortunately I made it through that year and then made it through the next like 25 years. And so, so that was my, that was my path. And, and it kind of happened really fast that I, so then Michael hired us after that meeting, and then I had to go tell my boss at Universal that not only was I looking for a job, but I had one and it was as a writer.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Steve Baldikoski:
And then, and so their business affairs made this big stink that they owned my half of my spec script.

Michael Jamin:
And what, what are they planning on doing with it?

Steve Baldikoski:
I, well, that, well, I, I asked them that and I think they were all gonna take my spot in the writer's room.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. What you're, they have they own ha you're half of a worthless SPAC script that just got you a job. I don't know,

Steve Baldikoski:
Value it. It was a weird thing. But they,

Michael Jamin:
But business

Steve Baldikoski:
Affairs won't hesitate to

Michael Jamin:
Sink a deal whenever possible. <Laugh>. Yes. We remove the joy out of a writer <laugh>. We have a three hour phone call to

Steve Baldikoski:
Figure this out. And they, yes, they effectively did steal my joy of that moment,

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>. Oh my God. And then, yeah. Then the rest was just one show after another, basically. And

Steve Baldikoski:
Then, yeah. And yeah, it started out we got in, at the time there used to be the WB in, in U p n, the Paramount Network. I think like in that, in that time period, this is like 97, 98, there was like the peak of the sitcom. I think there were over 60 half hour sitcoms on the air. And then Brian and I rode that rollercoaster.

Michael Jamin:
Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.
So tell me about developing your last project.

Steve Baldikoski:
Okay, so the, the last project that I just developed I sold it to a ABC with 20th. Mm-Hmm. came to me because it was so personal to what I'm going through as a dad. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, my youngest kid is non-binary.

Michael Jamin:
Okay.

Steve Baldikoski:
And she she was born a girl, Vivian. And then around time, she was about the second grade, she came to us and said that she, she felt that she was a boy. Right. And so that led us down on this journey. You know, finding out, you know, like having a trans kid and non-binary kid and never knowing anything about it. Right. and that kind of led me to want to write about it after I broke up with my writing partner right at the start of Covid. And I was gonna have to write my first thing. So I was gonna write at first I was actually gonna develop step by step BA based on the same concept. I was unable to sell that to H B O Max mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. so instead I redeveloped the idea of me being this like hapless dad sort of middle class working class guy in rural Wisconsin, which is where my mom's family is from.
And then having this tomboy kid that he just loves more than anything. Hi. Her, his Maisie all of a sudden informs him that no her name is, she's now Hunter. And you're thinking this as a single camera comedy or what? This was a single camera comedy. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it was structured like a multicam, but, but really that was from, anyway, that was my speck. And what that led me to, to, to, to do is it got me the attention of other people who were in the non-binary trans world. So then ultimately I partnered just through meeting lots of people this woman named Billy Lee, who some people know because Billy Lee was on early seasons of Vander Pump Rules. Okay. and so it was kind of a, like a well-known person in, in the trans community.
And then, so Billy Lee and her friend Priscilla had this idea about her own life, which is kind of almost too hard to believe is true. Billy Lee grew up in rural Indiana as a boy. Left home in 18, found out that he wasn't gay, he was actually a, she Right. And went through the surgeries and then, you know, a a lot of turmoil, but then returns back home and fell in love with her best male friend from junior high. And now they're together as an on and off couple. And so it was, how, how do I take that and turn that into a half hour comedy? I know it's a long wind up, but it's a great story that is almost hard to believe. Yeah. And

Michael Jamin:
Was her best friend growing up.

Steve Baldikoski:
Yes. And so we pitched it really as a Netflix H b o Showtime show that would, would show that magic relationship and also have sex and, you know, things that I think would be hard, you know, relatively hard for a, you know, a regular network audience.

Michael Jamin:
And it's sold,

Steve Baldikoski:
But it sold to a b ABC because they wanted, there's this great, her relationship with her father is also really what it's about. Right. And it's, it, it is a fa is also a family show about how it took a trans woman to fix this broken Midwestern family.

Michael Jamin:
Right. And

Steve Baldikoski:
Right in ABC's wheelhouse, you

Michael Jamin:
Know, where where is that now? At like

Steve Baldikoski:
A, like a Connor's but with a strong trans element.

Michael Jamin:
And where is that right now?

Steve Baldikoski:
It's dead. Oh,

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh>

Michael Jamin:
With every other pilot.

Steve Baldikoski:
Yeah. yeah. I, I, you know, I can't, I I can't entirely blame them. Like, it, it would be very amazing to see a, b, c put on a show about a trans woman and not have it be one of the peripheral characters.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Steve Baldikoski:
I, I, I think that's just a hard sell. Maybe if I was, you know, a more powerful writer, could, could you, you know, jam that down their throat? But I, I don't think, I think the subject matter was exactly their wheelhouse, but also maybe too, too on the bleeding edge for them.

Michael Jamin:
It, it feels a little like, you know, some somebody somewhere at that H B O show. I love that show. No. Oh yeah. It's a little sim it's it, and there's not trans, but it's, it's similar that, I don't know, that just remind me of It's great. It's a great show. Our friend Rob Cohen directs a bunch of those. Oh yeah.

Steve Baldikoski:
Oh, I'll have to check that out.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Great show. But, so then, okay, so then what, what else? Like, you, I mean, it's been a while since, you know, since Fuller House, but what was that like? I always ask this, what's it like working with the cuz a lot has changed since you and I broke in. Yes. What is it working on with like the, the new generation of writers?

Steve Baldikoski:
Well luckily at Four House I was still the new generation of writers <laugh>. What wasn't that

Michael Jamin:
Mean, wasn't that long ago.

Steve Baldikoski:
I, I still felt young on the show Uhhuh. Cause Cause we had people No, we, we had people who were older and Oh right. And you know, were around the early, the

Michael Jamin:
Original show.

Steve Baldikoski:
And so, so it was kind of great to feel like I was on the young side for once. Yeah. but I, I understand what you're, I understand what you're, what you're getting to are like in terms of how the room has changed from started to now, even

Michael Jamin:
In terms of preparation because, you know, you can answer any way you want. But it, like, basically there was more when we were coming up, you were on a show for longer. There were more senior writers and you were constantly learning and you were never, I never, you were never like thrown into the hot wa hot water yet. But now I feel like these kids come in and there's no really training ground. There's no, there's even, you know, I think there's an article a couple days ago, there's no mentorship anymore because

Steve Baldikoski:
No, no, no, no, no. There, there isn't. And you know, that's too sad. I think that, I think content in general is as good as it's ever been. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And yet that training system doesn't seem to exist. And I wish it did. When, when we first got in around the Ned and Stacy era, like there still was that you would still feel that like a showrunner would take someone mm-hmm. Under his wing, like Michael Whitehorn did with David Lit. Yep. And Shepherd that person cuz they would have multiple years of Ned and Stacy. And then luckily that turned into King of Queens. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and, and you know, so

Michael Jamin:
There were schools.

Steve Baldikoski:
Mike were together for a long time. That's the old model. I don't see that anymore. I wish it was there. Because to to be honest with you, like when Brian and I made the jump from co-executive producers of Fuller House to executive producers, it, it was like, we are being thrown to the wolves after 25 years. Yes. Because because of jumping from show to show, to show like younger writers do now all the time. I, I didn't learn those skills mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And so we didn't really know that much about editing, you know, sweetening like it, how's our camera coverage. Right. you know, all all of those little things that, you know, I had to, I had to learn them very, very quickly. And so luckily I had a, a great, you know, you know, crew that all wanted to help us as, you know, learn as well. But yeah, there is no system. I wish there was

Michael Jamin:
Like, I even think like multi-camera, like you, back in the day, you'd come out of a school like we basically <inaudible>. We, we kind of came out of the Frazier school cause Levitan came outta Frazier, which came outta the cheer school. And it was like that kind of pedigree that you had and you're just learning from all those people. And then now, like, there's so few multi cams. Like if they were to bring back multi cams, well who's gonna do it? Who knows how to do it? Because it's different than doing a single camera.

Steve Baldikoski:
It's funny, it's funny you say that because that's why I'm calling onto the business. Yeah. that I'm hoping, I'm hoping that that we can stick around long enough that it will come back at some point. Uhhuh

Michael Jamin:
<Affirmative>. Yeah.

Steve Baldikoski:
I, I love the format. Like, I mean that's, that's one of the things that like really me about Fuller House is you know, I was able to be there for like five years mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. and I never really had to worry about, you know, job security and it, it was this amazing place and we, and there were fans of the show and, and it was just great to write for them. And so that spoiled me, you know, now that that kind of is, you know, has gone away now that Fuller house is no longer on the air. Friday night was my drug, you know, cuz you know, Friday night I love putting on a show every week and I miss that.

Michael Jamin:
Here's my pitch Fullest house. Pay me. That's,

Steve Baldikoski:
That's, that's a great idea. That's a great, I wonder, I wonder if anyone pitched that to me, <laugh> before the day I started.

Michael Jamin:
I wonder if anybody pitched that to me. Your shitty joke. <Laugh>.

Steve Baldikoski:
So was it one of my low IQ children?

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>. Well then, so then what do you do? So what do you do now? I mean you're obviously you're developing and, and

Steve Baldikoski:
So, so now I I'm, I'm working on a, a, a new multi-camera idea. I'm very excited about

Michael Jamin:
And Gone <laugh>

Steve Baldikoski:
Haven't

Michael Jamin:
Taken it out yet.

Steve Baldikoski:
Yeah. no, I'm just, I I I, I think I finally ha I have the pilot story. I'm just trying to populate it with all the other, all the other things.

Michael Jamin:
Okay. And then, and then

Steve Baldikoski:
With all the other characters cuz I basically started with the central character, Uhhuh <affirmative>. It is kind of high concept, but I don't wanna give it away. I I'll talk to you off camera about it. Okay. with the central character and then that led to a bigger world. Then populate that world kind of how to, how I want to, how I wanna fit tonally into that world. Like it's, it's, it's an idea that would, to me, it feels a little in the vein of what we do in the shadows.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, okay. Yeah.

Steve Baldikoski:
In terms of like a high concept comedy idea. And because I never worked for him, but like, my hero as a sitcom writer is Paul Sims.

Michael Jamin:
Okay.

Steve Baldikoski:
And it, you know, my first spec was Ned and Stacy. I mean, I, I was news Radio. Radio. Yeah. And which was run by Paul Sims, created by Paul Sims. And now he runs mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. you know, what we do in the Shadows, which I just think is a brilliant, brilliant show.

Michael Jamin:
So then what do you have, what advice do you have for people? Do you have any advice for people trying to get into the business now? Well,

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh> that's why I'm here. I thought I was seeking advice from you. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
You thought you were a, a job.

Steve Baldikoski:
I thought people were gonna, I thought people were gonna call in and tell me what to do with my life.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, exactly.

Steve Baldikoski:
I, I mean the, the number one thing is like, if you want to be a writer, I think you probably have to move to LA maybe New York. But if you want to be in TV comedy, I think you have to be in LA Yeah. That's the first thing you have to do is move here and then write all, you can write things that make you laugh. Right. That abuse you, because no one else will probably enjoy it. So you might as well, you might as well <laugh> <laugh>. And, and also, and also I think you, you, you have to get creative, you know I think social media is a great way to get noticed.

Michael Jamin:
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>,

Steve Baldikoski:
My wife happens to be an executive on the TV side, and she bought the Twitter feed shit, my dad says when she was

Michael Jamin:
Wild. And that was gotta be 10 years ago now.

Steve Baldikoski:
And Yes. And I, and I think that was like the first thing that a network executive or that a network has like, bought something on, like no one was buying a Twitter feed at the time. Right. And, and I thought that was pretty clever that Wendy started looking at things like that. And I, I think that's a great place to get noticed. Yeah,

Michael Jamin:
I agree.

Steve Baldikoski:
Especially for young comedy writers. Does she

Michael Jamin:
Still do that? Does she still actively, does she look on social media for other people like that?

Steve Baldikoski:
She does that. She also she flips through, they get they get proposals of books that are coming out. Not even books that have been written, but just titles of book proposals sometimes.

Michael Jamin:
Really. And

Steve Baldikoski:
She has scanned through that and bought a series based on one of the blurbs that she read about

Michael Jamin:
That I've

Steve Baldikoski:
Never heard that. That was, that that was actually the show Atory.

Michael Jamin:
I Okay. Cuz that's a good title. I

Steve Baldikoski:
Never heard that

Michael Jamin:
Before. So I would, I would, I've always, cause my advice to given people is, well, it's gotta be a bestselling book, but you're saying

Steve Baldikoski:
Oh, oh, oh. I'm not, oh, I'm not suggesting that's a way to get noticed,

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Steve Baldikoski:
To, to write a book. Although it's not a bad idea. If you have a great life story, write a book or put it on TikTok.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Steve Baldikoski:
I think, I think just if you have a comic voice, there are a million ways to get it out there. Yeah. and my dear friend, a guy named David Arnold was a writer on Filler House and just started showing, you know, doing TikTok videos of, of him and his wife and kids. And then he, like, I think Ellen DeGeneres was the first to share one of his videos, and then that blew up for him. And then he ended up, he was getting sponsored and he was a, he was a standup comic and it was helping out with his standup business. Yeah. And so at the age of, you know, 53, he was discovered on new media, you know, and

Michael Jamin:
And what would has

Steve Baldikoski:
Become little tiny sketches about his family.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, I, let's talk about Kirsty, which was you, you were, to me, that was a lot of fun. So that was a Kirsty Alley show. Yeah. And you guys brought us in. They needed a a freelance. I don't know why they, but they wanted to have somebody freelance even though you got a, a great writing staff. Oh,

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh>.

Michael Jamin:
And I like, we're like, we'll do it. And then

Steve Baldikoski:
I think, I think our, I think I think your agent said that your teeth were falling out and if you didn't write a script for the medical Oh,

Michael Jamin:
Not at all. Honestly,

Steve Baldikoski:
That show,

Michael Jamin:
Because that was a bunch of heavy hitters on that show. Yeah. I really enjoyed it. We were only sat, we only sat in for a couple days. We walked you guys, we walked in and then you guys said, okay, here's the story. We, we broke it, kind of go write it. We're like, okay. And but it was a, it

Steve Baldikoski:
Was to start Ted Damson. Sson.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. And, and then, and Marco punted it for se the next season thinking it was gonna be a season two Marco, there's no season two <laugh>. You don't punt that. You shoot it today before, before they pull the plug. <Laugh>

Steve Baldikoski:
The old, we will use this <laugh> we'll use scripts season two. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
The old season two

Steve Baldikoski:
Trick. I don't know if that was him being tricked or you being tricked.

Michael Jamin:
Honestly, we had a great time. It was

Steve Baldikoski:
A great script. It was a great

Michael Jamin:
Script. It was fun. It was just fun sitting in with a bunch of people. Yeah, well, a bunch of writers that I respected. So

Steve Baldikoski:
No, that was an amazing, that was an amazing experience. I, I, we like Claris Leachman did the show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> like some really, you know we, we wrote an episode for John Travolta. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
And was it Michael Richards and Ria Pearlman. And it was like, these are good, these are heavy hitters, these are great actors. So, and

Steve Baldikoski:
The, the night that Claris Leachman did the show, we went out for drinks afterwards, Uhhuh with her. And I ended up sitting next to Kirsty Allie's assistant. And it wasn't until about 10 minutes into my conversation when she mentioned reincarnation, that I realized that I was talking to a high level Scientologist. And then I, and then I noticed she was doing all these Scientology tricks with me, like deep deeply staring into my eyes and not blinking until I blink. It was, it was, it was very bizarre.

Michael Jamin:
Wow. I I think we can,

Steve Baldikoski:
That's, that, that's, that's a good enough reason to become a sitcom writer is Yeah. To have someone do Scientology mind tricks on you. Those

Michael Jamin:
Are, that those are all these, those are always good stories when you Yeah. Can you go hang out on the past? Hang out. Yeah. And then what about

Steve Baldikoski:
When, when Clarus Leachman is far from the craziest person at the table? <Laugh>.

Michael Jamin:
She was, she was pretty wild. Yeah.

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh>

Michael Jamin:
Did I ever work? I'm trying to remember if I ever worked with her on something. I think I did, but I can't remember what it was.

Steve Baldikoski:
Gotta be. Just, just shoot me.

Michael Jamin:
It might have been. I don't remember. I, I, you know, but Okay. Well let's get to baby, let's get to the, what everyone wants to talk about Baby Bob.

Steve Baldikoski:
Oh,

Michael Jamin:
<Laugh>, let's go. You

Steve Baldikoski:
Saved the best for last.

Michael Jamin:
I saved the best for last. Let's talk about baby. Well,

Steve Baldikoski:
I, I believe that Baby Bob was the highest rated show that I've ever been on,

Michael Jamin:
But they canceled it so fast.

Steve Baldikoski:
They canceled it. Yes. I think that was a, that was a disconnect where the high, high ups meaning like Les Moon vest when he was running CBSs, I think he wanted Baby Bob to be on the air. Oh. And so that he developed it like two or three times with multiple casts.

Michael Jamin:
Right. We gotta have a talking baby.

Steve Baldikoski:
And it was, and, but the, but the Talking baby always stayed the same based on these commercials. Was it Geico? Yes. I think his Geico commercials with the baby Ba with Baby Bob interviewing Shaq Yeah. Is, it's the concept that got everyone all hot and bothered. And so, so Les Moonves bought the show. This is my version of the story, I'm sure it's only partially accurate. But he didn't really include the lower level executives who absolutely hated the show. And so, as Brian and I got hired on the show, we thought, Hey, it's a c b s show. They must like the show. But the reaction from the executives after every table read was basically, how dare you,

Michael Jamin:
How dare how dare you have the baby talk? How dare you. What

Steve Baldikoski:
Like, just everything about the show seemed to offend the, the c bs executives incivility who were in charge of the show.

Michael Jamin:
Were, were there anything advertised guys in it? Were they involved at all?

Steve Baldikoski:
No, not, I don't think so. Kenny Kenny Campbell is the voice and mouth of the baby. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And then actually I didn't know much about babies when I was on the show, but then now when I look back, I realize how creepy it is that a baby has a full set of adult teeth. Yeah. Yeah. That are prominent. If I saw a baby like that in real life, I would run.

Michael Jamin:
Do you think that was the problem with the show? <Laugh>

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh>, this is the baby's teeth? Well, well the Mike Saltzman, my dear friend who Yeah. Saltman created the show, described it as Frazier, and they happened to have a talking baby.

Michael Jamin:
The other, so the other Oh, Freeman was Frazier had, okay. Frazier. All right.

Steve Baldikoski:
And they just happened to have a talking baby. I

Michael Jamin:
Saltman

Steve Baldikoski:
That was, that was Mike's

Michael Jamin:
And what, what were the writers do? Did, yeah.

Steve Baldikoski:
I don't have a lot of memories. <Laugh>. Okay.

Michael Jamin:
So

Steve Baldikoski:
There were a lot of late nights and one night, I think it was about midnight, that I got into a shouting match with one of the other writers about whether or not Baby Bob was a genius.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Steve Baldikoski:
And the other writer was taking the stance of he's not a genius, he's only talking at six months. Mozart was writing symphonies at, at five or seven, and I was shouting and I was yelling about the other side that Mozart was not talking at sick at six months.

Michael Jamin:
And was everyone looking at you both outta your mind? <Laugh>?

Steve Baldikoski:
Yes. Like, it's midnight. Can I go home?

Michael Jamin:
Can I go home? How get the baby to dance? That's all.

Steve Baldikoski:
But, but, but, but, but I mean, part of the lesson there is even a show that you think is so, so simple or terrible that you could write it in it, in its in your sleep. Uhhuh <affirmative>. It's not that way. No. No. Because even a show like that is very hard to write. Yes.

Michael Jamin:
Yes. Because

Steve Baldikoski:
You have so many layers of people to Please,

Michael Jamin:
Yes. People ask me is they say is a, is a, is a great show. Hard to write than a bad show. No, they're all, they're all kind of hard to write for different reasons. Yeah.

Steve Baldikoski:
And that, that was, I mean, definitely a lesson. And then another lesson was despite what we felt like, I like it, it is sort of embarrassing to be on a show like Baby Bob when you're on the Paramount lot and then the Frazier Golf Cart drives by <laugh> and you're in the same business, but you're not in the same business. But when it came to the ratings, baby Bob did huge in the ratings. Yeah. Yeah. And it was like one of the top, I think it's one of the top new comedies that year.

Michael Jamin:
And that's so interesting. And, and that's, that's the thing people don't realize as well, is that you, you may be a great writer, but if you're in this lane, it's hard to get out of that lane cuz that's how people see you. Yes. And if you're in a great, even if you're even a bad writer on a great show, now you're in that lane. You're in a great ri you're, you know, you, you're inflated. So Yeah. Yeah. yeah. People don't quite realize that.

Steve Baldikoski:
Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
And you take, you gotta take the job, you gotta get you, but you take the job you get, you know, so Yeah. And,

Steve Baldikoski:
And, and you really, and you really don't know if it's gonna pan out.

Michael Jamin:
No.

Steve Baldikoski:
Like I remember talking to Al Jane and Mike Reese mm-hmm. <Affirmative> when we worked with them and asking them when they got started, they started on the, started on The Simpsons I think coming off of Gary Shaline show and when they were pitched coming on to do this cartoon on Fox.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Steve Baldikoski:
They thought, I think that they thought it was, it was not good for their career.

Michael Jamin:
It would kill their career. Yeah. And, and now it would make no difference, honestly. Now you what? You take a job, you know, whatever job you can get, you take a job, you know? Yeah. But back then you could make decisions. You could make choices.

Steve Baldikoski:
Yes. Yeah. I, yeah. And, and interestingly, like back when Brian and I were making lists of shows, we would wanna be on Uhhuh, <affirmative> Simpsons was like a C-level list at the time.

Michael Jamin:
Uhhuh <affirmative> Really? Cause

Steve Baldikoski:
We liked it, but we thought it was imminently. We, we didn't, no one still knew it was gonna be on the air

Michael Jamin:
40 years later.

Steve Baldikoski:
Yeah. And you know, cuz cuz being on The Simpsons, I think it was like uncool. Then it became cool, then it was uncool.

Michael Jamin:
Well, in a way it's a little bit of, it's almost golden handcuffs if you're on the Cho. That that's if you're on the Simpsons now, you you're not gonna leave. Yeah. Cause it's job security and get ready to, for writing Bart jokes for the rest of your career, you know. Yeah.

Steve Baldikoski:
But the crazy thing is that there are writers who are still there, who were there when I was in the mail room at United Town. Sure.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. So

Steve Baldikoski:
Th there are people

Michael Jamin:
Who, they've made a career at it who,

Steve Baldikoski:
Yes. So I was in the, I was on the business side of the business. I became an executive and then I was a writer for 25 years. Yeah. And they're still doing the job from the day I got into the business.

Michael Jamin:
It's so interesting. It's just so, yeah. It's, and I would think creatively it's hard, but you know, you, but the money will make, will make you feel better. You know,

Steve Baldikoski:
Money makes a lot of things feel better.

Michael Jamin:
You crying for your 50? Is there a 50 bill? <Laugh>. I wouldn't know what a 50 bill looks like. Fascinating. Dude, thank you so much. We have a good chat. We had a good time.

Steve Baldikoski:
Steve. Thanks for having me.

Michael Jamin:
Thank you so much. This is, I, I don't know, I'm always fascinating in, in learning people's journeys and how they got there and so thank you so much for, for being on my little show.

Steve Baldikoski:
Thank you. And hopefully you have stuff that you don't have to cut.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, <laugh>, sorry folks. If you heard the version that, the edited version, we had a trash, a lot of stuff. <Laugh>,

Steve Baldikoski:
<Laugh>.

Michael Jamin:
All right everyone, thank you so much. Remember, we offer, we got a lot of great stuff for you on my website. You can get on my newsletter, you get my free all that stuff. Go to michaeljamin.com and find out what we got there. And I got another webinar coming up. All right everyone, thanks so much. Until next, next week, keep writing.

Phil Hudson:
This has been an episode where screenwriters need to hear this with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

Author Details
Co-Host, Screenwriters Need To Hear This , Phil Hudson
For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.