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Billion-Dollar Kiss: The Kiss That Saved Dawson's Creek and Other Adventures inTV Writing Hardcover – May 10, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; First Printing edition (May 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159240295X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592402953
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From 1988 until 2004, Stepakoff led a charmed life. A co-executive producer of Dawson's Creek and a writer on Major Dad and The Wonder Years, among other shows, he achieved his lifelong dream: working in television. The 1990s were the glory days, Stepakoff says, when big money was thrown at everyone. Armed with an M.F.A. from Carnegie-Mellon and several key Hollywood contacts, Stepakoff parlayed youth, ambition and luck into gigs on several shows—both as a writer and producer—netting himself a fortune in the process. He details the money, the madness and the industry in his memoir, in which, along the way, he explains how to break in, how the industry works (from development deals and pilots to bona fide hits) what agents do and why. He chronicles the people and the experience, admitting there is nothing "more intoxicating than making TV shows every week," and noting that a successful show can demand 16-hour workdays to churn out 22 episodes a season. He also explains how, with the advent of reality TV, the party ended. Would-be TV writers will crave these behind-the-scenes details of a writer's life—even if that life no longer exists. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Stepakoff packed up and moved to Los Angeles at the tail end of the 1980s after hearing an inspiring speech by TV writer John Wells at Carnegie Mellon. Stepakoff picked the right time to go since television was experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Groundbreaking dramas such as Hill Street Blues and comedies such as The Simpsons were launched during the 1980s and 1990s, changing the face of television and catapulting writers into a stratosphere of power and wealth where they were courted, valued, and paid accordingly. Stepakoff's spec script garnered him attention and a lucrative deal, and he found himself writing for some of the hottest dramas of the era, including The Wonder Years, Sisters, and Dawson's Creek. But in 2001, the threat of a writer's strike brought the golden age to an abrupt end and ushered in the era of reality TV. Savvy, smart, and chock-full of insider knowledge, Stepakoff's book is a must-read for anyone who aspires to be or currently is working as a television writer. Huntley, Kristine
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Jeffrey Stepakoff was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he received a BA in Journalism. In 1988, the day after getting his MFA in Playwriting from Carnegie Mellon, he drove to Hollywood where he began writing for film and television.

Stepakoff has written for fourteen different TV series, including the Emmy-winning THE WONDER YEARS, SISTERS, and DAWSON'S CREEK where he was Co-Executive Producer. He has also created and developed pilots for many of the major studios and networks, including 20th Century, Paramount, MTM, Fox, and ABC. And he has developed and written major motion pictures, including Disney's TARZAN and BROTHER BEAR.

A few years ago Stepakoff began pursuing his long-held dream of writing fiction. FIREWORKS OVER TOCCOA, a SIBA Okra Pick and an Indie Next List Notable, is his first novel. Stepakoff's second novel, THE ORCHARD, comes out in July 2011. His fiction is available now in six languages.

Presently, Stepakoff lives in Atlanta with his wife and three young children, and is working on his third novel for St. Martin's Press. In his spare time, he builds forts in living room with sofa cushions.

Join him at: www.facebook.com/JeffreyStepakoff

Customer Reviews

Very interesting and worthwhile read for anyone who wants to know what's behind good TV.
DC Girl
He was a writer and producer on several hit TV shows including most notably Dawson's Creek as well as Major Dad & The Wonder Years.
Charles J. Rector
I whole-heartedly recommend this book for anyone who has any interest in what goes on behind the scenes in the life of a TV writer.
LA Mama

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Charles J. Rector on May 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For a decade and a half (1988-2004), Jeffrey Stepakoff had it made. He was a writer and producer on several hit TV shows including most notably Dawson's Creek as well as Major Dad & The Wonder Years. He became wealthy in the process. He also was able to gain a number of insights into the TV business that he is able to share in his book, "Billion Dollar Kiss."

Jeffrey Stepakoff starts out with his education at a fancy East coast university where he dreamed of becoming a big shot Broadway playwright. Through a series of unexpected events, he wound up in Hollywood as a would be TV writer with a seemingly crazy woman as his agent. Stepakoff and his agent was able to parlay a script for the Molly Dodd TV show into a career that took him to the top of the TV production game.

Stepakoff soon wound up on the Dawson's Creek show that started off as a struggling enterprise ratings wise. One of his colleagues came up with the idea of having Dawson kiss one of the girls on the show. This kiss soon led to the creation of a love triangle that became what Stepakoff calls a "story engine" that he believes was the primary reason why Dawson's Creek became a hit show that has made thus far over a billion dollars for the network, the studio and the production company not to mention the folks who made the show.

There are some surprising insights into the life of a TV writer. For instance, writers run how the show is made, not the directors. TV directors do as the writers tell them what to do. Producers will uphold the writer's vision since doing otherwise leads to trouble with the Writer's Guild of America. This holds true even for major figures such as David Mamet who has directed a few episodes of The Shield and Quentin Tarentino who directed two episodes of CSI in 2005.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Brattner on July 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A tell-all insiders look into the "real" world of television from TV writing, making, producing, and all the eccentric characters that are involved along the way...Jeffrey Stepakoff describes the television industry from soup to nuts, through its glory (and not so glory) days. As a huge fan of Dawson's Creek, and an avid watcher of television, and lover of quality writing in general, this book was truly a non-stop treat. Thank you Jeffrey for opening our world to this crazy, fun, and certainly unpredictable biz!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By LA Mama on January 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a TV writer who worked on staff consistently in the late 90's and early 2000's, when I came across this book I was immediately curious and interested to see what the author had to say about the TV writing business. Although our paths never crossed during that time, many of Stepakoff's anecdotes could have been my own.

Stepakoff interweaves his own experiences in the biz with the changing business as a whole and does so extremely successfully. Even though I was in the midst of the changing TV business (specifically the recent demise of scripted television), I was never fully aware of the far-reaching reasons behind it. Stepakoff has done a magnificent job of meticulously researching this book and for that, it serves not only as a fun memoir, but a legitimate historical accounting of the rise and fall of the TV writer and scripted television as a whole.

I whole-heartedly recommend this book for anyone who has any interest in what goes on behind the scenes in the life of a TV writer. It is especially relevant now given the current writer's strike as well. It should seriously be required reading for any college TV writing course. I know I'm going to make it required reading for my husband!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nancyhua on May 29, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this book because I'm wondering how TV production is going to change in the next few years with the advent of Hulu and Netflix so I wanted to get some background on the history of the industry. This book does provide some color from a TV writer's perspective. I'd guess < 10% of this book has anything to do with Dawson's creek or actor celebrity gossip. The kiss referred to in the title is when (spoiler?) Pacey kisses Joey, officially kicking off the new love triangle franchise that would rescue the show from declining ratings and carry it through the rest of its run. Sadly, this is one of the only insider examples of anything interesting happening because of TV writers. The other contents I feel like you could piece together from wikipedia.

Some ideas I took away from this book:

For a while TV was all about the writers creating content so writers were kings, but when unscripted reality and/or game shows became popular writers started losing ground.

Because of some court rulings, networks started producing their own TV shows, which turned out to be more profitable because they kept making money on them after production due to reruns, etc.

I'm surprised the writing was so bland considering this guy is a professional writer, but I think it makes sense if TV writing is just direct and flat like that. Stepakoff ignores the "show, don't tell" thing and relates his story to you in almost an outline-like listing of events and facts that I doubt would be fundamentally interesting or engaging to most people unless he threw in something that got us emotionally involved, which he doesn't.
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