This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with TV writer, producer, and actor, Joe Queroli. We talked about projects, the writer’s process, Covid-19, and the ongoing legal battle between the WGA (Writer’s Guild of America) and top Hollywood agencies. Queroli’s manager, industry veteran Greg Weiss (Wonder Street Ent.), joined in to give us some insight on the current state of selling and creating projects in Hollywood
Joe, what first drew you to the television industry, and specifically your passion for live-action, scripted series?
The acting side drew me into the business. Kevin Costner is the reason I shifted into writing. I was ready to quit but after randomly meeting Costner, he talked me into continuing my journey in the business. He pushed me to figure out another way to make it happen, so I wrote a script and things finally started moving forward. I would say HBO and The Sopranos inspired me to throw my hat into scripted television.
Your first script is called The Tadley House and it’s inspired by a true story, yes? Tell me more about the process of taking real-life events and people and molding them into a story ready to be filmed?
Yes, The Tadley House was inspired by a legendary Madam named Lee Francis. She was in the Hollywood underworld, operating in plain sight from roughly 1920-1940. Hollywood basically made her disappear. She doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, it’s crazy! So, I didn’t have enough information to base it on her life, but we used her as the inspiration and created the characters and storylines from scratch.
When you say “we” you mean with your writing partner, Mike Fera? What has it been like working with Mike and how did you two start working together?
Yes! Working with Mike has been amazing. He’s a brilliant writer. His attention to detail is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and that is not an exaggeration. He brought me a project called The Year Without Summer, also inspired by true events. In 1816 summer never came. It was a worldwide tragedy that killed millions of people. He brought me that story, I brought him The Tadley House and the rest is history.
How has the WGA/Agency battle and Covid-19 affected your timeline in bringing these projects to life? Also, please give us a brief summary of the union/agency situation and how you’re adapting.
Well, first let me say that my agent, Andy Elkin (CAA) is a great guy. He took a chance on me as an unknown writer and I am forever grateful for that. A few weeks after he took me on as a client is when the battle began. Horrible timing. In a nutshell, the writer’s union has an issue with the agencies taking 10% of their clients as well as a ‘packaging fee’ from the networks. My manager Greg can give you more insight and detail. As for me, I can say that it has slowed things down in multiple ways, and with COVID following less than a year later; it definitely has been a mess for all parties involved.
I was able to establish relationships with AMC and HBO on my own, and thankfully Greg and Wonder Street came along a few months ago. We are working as best we can during this crazy time. As of now, everything seems to be at a standstill.
When all of this is over what are your end goals in Hollywood? And in Life?
In Hollywood - to write, produce, and star in my own content. Achieving enough success to make a comfortable living doing something I love is really all could ask for.
In life – I have an amazing girlfriend that I plan on making my wife. Starting a family with her, health, and traveling. Inshallah.
After my great chat with Joe, I gave Greg from Wonder Street just asked him one question!
Greg, how did you hear about Joe, and what was it that made you want to work with him?
Joe was referred to me from another client, I read several of his projects fell in love writing, especially tally house, and want to work together as he has a unique voice
Despite setbacks due to the battle over packaging fees, Joe has proven himself an inventive and determined force in television, independently forging relationships with top networks. He has even more projects in the making with well-known collaborators, including veteran comedy director, Frank Coraci, who has been a mentor to him. He is also working alongside executive producer Michelle Armor, known for her work on Chappelle’s Show, and her husband Rob to bring to life his talk show Wheelhouse. Joe expertly manages his multiple projects with creativity and ingenuity, setting him up to be an exciting up and coming storyteller in the television industry.