For years Mississippi has been linked with the highest rate in obesity, teen pregnancy, illiteracy and a host of other unflattering statistics, however, in 2009 the state will be credited with something that no other state can claim: the birthplace of America’s first literary reality show, The Write Stuff.
“It’s hard to believe that this is really happening,” says Cyrus A. Webb,33, President of Conversations Book Club, host of Conversations LIVE! Radio and the creator and host of the project. “Mississippi has gotten a bad rap and black eye because of our history. I am hoping that The Write Stuff will cause others to give a second look.”
The idea for the show came about over dinner at Cici’s Pizza in Brandon, MS in October 2008. Webb, who has been a champion for the arts since 1996, has interviewed and hosted events for over 100 authors over the past three years and thought it would be great to show aspiring writers exactly what it took in order to be successful in the business. He also wanted to make sure that the process would be entertaining and enjoyable for those involved and watching at home as well.
After the show was outlined, Webb reached out to individual CW networks across the country reserving paid programming blocks for the show to air. “They were excited about the concept,” he says after telling them the type of program he had in mind. Such a show was not new to Webb since his first television talk show “Conversations with C. A. Webb” appeared on the ABC affilliate in Mississippi the same way. (Though Webb expects to add additional states as the season goes on, to make sure no one misses anything the episodes are being loaded on The Write Stuff Youtube channel as they air.) He then constructed the website http://www.thewritestufftv.com and started his grassroots campaign to promote the project.
From there it was all about putting together the prizes. Thanks to literary partners and friends Donna Erickson (A Flair For Writing) and Cheryl Pillsbury (AG Press) a grand prize featuring a one-book deal was crafted and from there in-person and youtube auditions were hosted featuring authors who Webb has worked with over the years as judges during the process. At the end of the auditions strong candidates from over a half dozen states were chosen as the cast for the show.
What will the show entail? Though Webb is keeping the challenges a closely guarded secret he does give an idea into the process. “We are not going to have them doing ridiculous stunts that have nothing to do with the craft,” he says. “It will be an experience like none other they have had, but all that have gotten this far are winners in my opinion. I’m excited, nervous and humbled by the whole process,” says Webb. “This is part of a movement that I hope will spread across the country, inspiring educational and quality programming for the entire family.”
As for the catch phrase that will be used on the show as a goodbye to the eliminated contestants, Webb says don’t expect too much. “The Apprentice has ‘You’re fired’, Top Chef has ‘Pack your knives and go’. How can you top those? For me, my parting words to them will be simple: ‘I’m sorry, you don’t have The Write Stuff, but please continue to write the chapters of life.’ It is a message that is hopeful and encouraging, again mirroring what we hope others get from this program.”
Even before one show airs there have already been detractors of this project, even saying that Webb is not the right person to lead such a history-making venture. Webb shrugs off this criticism and simply states the facts. “I have been involved in the arts for years, and have been fortunate to have achieved alot of incredible things during that time. Some point to the fact that two of my larger projects didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted them to, but they were not failures. Those who talk like that and try to criticize are dream killers and are allowing their jealousy and own insecurities lead them. I look at the good that has come out of the projects I have been a part of and focus on that. Anything else is just a distraction.
At the end of the day, Webb wants to make sure that he delivers a quality project that assists those wanting to make their mark in publishing as well as makes his state proud. “You will never be able to please everyone,” he says, “but the time is just right for something like The Write Stuff. I’m just glad to be able to do my part.”
For details the show or to schedule interviews with the judges and cast, contact Herschel Dixon, Asst. Producer on the project, at 1-502-994-7852 or Cyrus A. Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information about the cast, judges and the prize package can also be found at http://www.thewritestufftv.com.