Alum Finds Success in Hollywood After BC Career
Interview with BC Grad Gives Insight Into Screenwriting
Published: Sunday, February 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Dan Siering: Thanks a lot for taking some time out of your afternoon today. I'm sure you're busy with season three coming out in a couple days. Let's first talk about your journey starting at Boston College, then going to Scrubs then the stuff with South Park, and finally co-creating Cougar Town.
Kevin Biegel: I was a communication major at BC, and I was kind of dead set on going to New York to write for a magazine when I graduated. At the same time, I had always been a huge film nerd. So I found Aintitcool.com my sophomore or junior year at school, and it was kind of in its infancy. It was like right as the Internet was starting to write about movies. So when I was writing for The Heights I was able to parlay seeing an early screening of a movie into being the person to write a review for Ain't It Cool. I was doing that for about a year and then one day I was on campus and I saw a flyer that said "come see a screening for a new movie way before it comes out." I was like, okay, I'll go see it. So I went to the screening and it was literally the Farrelly Brothers showing, There's Something About Mary. That's what filmmakers used to do: they went to colleges around New England and showed movies to kids, and they would try to get ideas of how they could make the movie better.
I happened to be in the right place at the right time and I saw an early cut of There's Something About Mary, and then a month later I wrote a review of it. I wrote this big, 10-page review for Ain't It Cool and I was wrote all this technical stuff like "they should cut this and keep this," like I knew what I was talking about. Then I woke the next morning and my phone rang and it was Pete Farrelly. And he was like, "what the heck, man, why are you bad-mouthing my movie?" But then he said all the cuts and stuff I told them they should make were the cuts that the Farrelly brothers wanted to make themselves. So the studio thought that Pete Farrelly was writing a review under a different name or something. Then during that phone call they offered me a job to come out to California. So instead of going to New York, I went to California and started working with those guys.
I always wanted to write, so I spent every waking hour holed up in my dumpy little apartment, for four years, just writing and writing. Writing terrible script after terrible script. Then I ended up getting a job as a writer's assistant for The Tracy Morgan Show, which was on for like two seconds. Some people there thought I was funny, and the Farrellys thought I was funny too, so we did round table punch-ups on their scripts. I was a 24-year-old kid and I was with Patton Oswalt and Jeff Ross and they literally say, "Okay, guys, make some funny jokes." So you sit around a table for a week and you punch up a script. I thought it was super fun, so I began thinking, how do you make this a living? That's when I figured out that TV writing was basically the same thing. You sit around a table and come up with jokes. After years and years of trying to write scripts, Bill Lawrence, the creator of Scrubs, read my stuff and he liked it and I got hired there. So I worked on Scrubs for a couple years. Then at one point I got a job for South Park, so I was working for Scrubs in the morning and South Park in the afternoon. Then from there it was nearing the end of Scrubs, and Bill had been talking to Courtney Cox, who wanted to develop a show for ABC. So he asked me if I was interested in doing this show with him and I said "yeah, sure, why not." So we began talking, and we had this running joke about what would be the dumbest show you could possibly do and actually sell. We said jokingly, maybe Cougar Town, which would have like a claw ripping through the screen as we passed from theme to theme. Then a month into talking with Courtney, Bill and I said, well, what if that was actually the show. Then it kind of evolved from there.