Stepakoff, Jeffrey 1964(?)-
Stepakoff, Jeffrey 1964(?)-
Writer, producer. Writer for television, 1988—; producer for Dawson's Creek, 1998, Hyperion Bay, 1998, and Wild Card, 2003; Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA, professor of film and television writing.
Writers Guild of America, Writers Guild of Canada, Screen Actors Guild, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Billion-Dollar Kiss: The Kiss That Saved Dawson's Creek and Other Adventures in TV Writing, Gotham Books (New York, NY), 2007.
"Simon and Simon, Jr.," Simon and Simon, 1988.
Major Dad (multiple episodes), 1989.
The Wonder Years (multiple episodes), 1990.
Sisters (multiple episodes), 1991.
Flipper (multiple episodes), 1995.
C-16: FBI (multiple episodes), 1997.
(And producer) Dawson's Creek (multiple episodes), 1998.
(And producer) Hyperion Bay (multiple episodes), 1998.
Cudnovate zgode segrta Hlapica (title means "The Little Shoemaker") [Germany], 1997.
Tarzan (story), Walt Disney Company (Hollywood, CA), 1999.
Also served as writer for the Walt Disney Company animated film Brother Bear.
Screenwriter Jeffrey Stepakoff earned an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and then a master of fine arts from Carnegie Mellon University in playwriting. His original intent was to write plays for the theater, concentrating on works for the New York stage. However, while still a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon, Stepakoff attended a presentation by John Wells, executive producer of such television shows as ER, The West Wing, and Third Watch. Wells was an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon and had come to speak to the students about a career in writing for television. Stepakoff was intrigued with the idea of writing for characters on an ongoing basis, and working in a medium where the writers were respected. In an interview for the Writers Store Web site, Stepakoff explained the appeal: "TV is a writer's medium. Unlike film, which is a director's medium—meaning most screenwriters turn in their screenplay and a couple years later they're invited to the premiere. In TV, the writer is in control and you can see the fruits of your labor almost immediately."
Inspired by Wells's talk, Stepakoff wrote a spec script for a television show and sent it to Wells after he graduated. Wells in turn passed the script along to a few agents he knew. Stepakoff packed up and moved to Los Angeles, and began the struggle to build a writing career. Since then, he has written for numerous shows, such as The Wonder Years, Dawson's Creek, and Hyperion Bay, as well as serving as producer for several series. He was also involved in the animated films Tarzan and Brother Bear. He has never regretted his decision, telling the interviewer for the Writers Store Web site: "Today, stories and entertainment are just as vital to our economy as oil and steel once were. Creative content is now the great commodity and writing is the ultimate career to have these days."
In Billion-Dollar Kiss: The Kiss That Saved Dawson's Creek and Other Adventures in TV Writing, Stepakoff writes about what it means to work as a television writer, the history of the industry and changes to the medium over the last several decades, and how different aspects of the TV writer's job impact on the programs that ultimately appear on the small screen. The title comes from the suggestion, made by television writer Greg Berlanti, that the characters Joey and Pacey should kiss on the then-struggling teen drama, Dawson's Creek. That one, small action was credited for the turnaround in the series' ratings, and ultimately for the program to go on airing for several more seasons, achieving more than the number of episodes necessary to make it a viable product in the syndication market. It is also about the skills required to be successful in the industry. Stepakoff told Rob Owen, in an interview for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Online: "To have a career as a television writer you need not just the ability to write, not just an ability to know how to take a vision and put it down on the page—it's also about management. Getting along with people. Sitting in a room and working collectively with other writers for a long period of time and an ability to have good ideas on a regular basis." A reviewer for the ChicagoTribune Online Web site commented: "For anyone who aspires to be a TV writer, or just wants an insider's take on the small-screen business, Stepakoff's book is also a good place to learn." Booklist contributor Kristine Huntley called it "a must-read for anyone who aspires to be or currently is working as a television writer."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2007, Kristine Huntley, review of Billion-Dollar Kiss: The Kiss That Saved Dawson's Creek and Other Adventures in TV Writing, p. 14.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2007, review of Billion-Dollar Kiss.
Library Journal, March 15, 2007, John Helling, review of Billion-Dollar Kiss, p. 75.
Publishers Weekly, February 26, 2007, review of Billion-Dollar Kiss, p. 71.
Chicago Tribune Online,http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/ (May 17, 2007), review of Billion-Dollar Kiss.
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (December 5, 2007), author biography.
Jeffrey Stepakoff Home Page,http://www.billiondollarkiss.com (December 5, 2007).
Jeffrey Stepakoff MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/jeffreystepakoff (December 5, 2007).
Kennesaw State University Web site,http://mapw.kennesaw.edu/ (December 5, 2007), faculty profile.
Post-Gazette Online (Pittsburgh, PA), http://www.postgazette.com/ (May 11, 2007), Rob Owen, "Tuned In: CMU Grad's Book Tells Why Prime-Time TV Is What It Is."
StoryLink,http://www.storylink.com/ (December 5, 2007), author profile.
Writers Store,http://www.writersstore.com/ (December 5, 2007), "Interview with Jeffrey Stepakoff, Author and TV Writer."