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An Invitation

by Ryan Johnson, May 19 2009

As many of you read through the entries for the SkepticBlog from all of these talented minds, you probably see many references to The Skeptologists.

I’ll assume for a moment that many of you already know what The Skeptologists is all about. Since the start of the blog, many new readers are undoubtedly trying to figure it out. Today, rather than writing a long blog here, I’m going to invite you to take a look at the newly refreshed Skeptologists Website.

This past weekend, I spent a few hours giving our Official Show Site an overhaul, adding details about the theme of the show and giving some never released details about how the program will be presented.

You don’t get it for free however, It will cost you a minute or two. Once you’ve read through the website, please take a quick moment to make a comment on the “Your Turn” page so that those who come through afterwards (including TV execs and agents that we send there) will understand just how much support we have for a skeptically-minded TV program.

Visit the Official Show Website at

Visit the Official Show Website at

I hope you enjoy the site, and look forward to your comments.

If you see any typo’s or encounter technical problems, please feel free to email me directly.


comments (10)

Star Power!

by Ryan Johnson, Mar 24 2009

I’ve greatly enjoyed reading the comments from my last post about the Quarter Incident at the Queen Mary. The discussion, the lines of thought and the way that people differ in their analysis of this event is one of the things that I most cherish about the power of my line of work. I love being able to be the catalyst for that.

You know, It continually amazes how much utter garbage is on TV. The work to getting something like The Skeptologists that is not only entertaining, but is thought provoking and dare I even say it aloud: “educational” on TV is stupendously difficult.

The problem that we (And I mean we as Skeptics) really have is that we’re not cool. Ah ah ah, don’t even start… Nope, we’re not. Granted, there’s a few that tip the scales towards coolness, and heck most of you all are some of my biggest heros! I am humbled by the intellect, provoking discourse and ability to wrangle science like a frontier cowboy. BUT! Compared to the stars of the entertainment world, sports, politics and just pure celebrity, we don’t got it. Well, not yet anyway.

I’m not worried though. That’s not what it’s all about. The issue however is convincing the TV execs that in this case, the star power is truth and science! They want celebrity-star-power and a sure fire hit. One reality that is very evident by the response that we get as we work through the process of selling the show, and other projects that I’m working on is that no exec will put his or her individual neck on the line and go to bat for a show anymore. They want consensus, unanimous opinion and a way to point both their fingers in opposite directions and say “it was their fault” when the ratings start to fall, as they eventually will, no matter how good a show you have. All the TV executives want a clear and unobstructed way out. If you watch a few hours of network prime-time, you’ll quickly understand why everything pretty much looks and feels the same within a few major genre’s… They all can point to another show and say “But American Idol was a hit! So America’s Got Talent has GOT to work!” Everyone around the big mahogany table nods appropriately, and bang-o you got a network deal.
Continue reading…

comments (14)

Snakeoil in the (Wheat)grass

by Ryan Johnson, Feb 17 2009

 As promised, our guest blogger, Shawna Young filling in for me this week to give you her perspective on her part of the The Skeptologists pilot shoot. Enjoy!


Hello everyone! First, I should apologize for my lack of blog last week, the Chicken Pox as an adult are not fun, and my sense of humor was a little thrown by all the itching and whining. Also, this is the first blog I have written so I guess I should start with a bit of an introduction.  My name is Shawna Young, I have worked for New Rule Productions for about 9 years and worked as a Coordinating Producer for “The Skeptologists”.  I very much enjoyed this group of people, talent and crew alike. I learned a lot, and am looking forward to working with them all again when the show gets picked up.

So, to start, I am usually the silly one of the bunch…I’m the girl who doesn’t get the joke right away and can’t remember the real names of things so I call items “dealy bobs” and “thingy ma stuff’s”. I am organized and focused on set, but off set I can get distracted pretty easily. I am also the one that Murphy’s Law doesn’t just follow around…it stalks me.  So, I guess I’ll start off the Wheatgrass segment now that you have all that in mind.  Continue reading…

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Target Audience

by Ryan Johnson, Dec 16 2008


I ran across a comment on the blog that I wrote last week. It caught my interest.  

Ejdalise wrote:

Not to say you guys won’t get there, but . . . I don’t know; perhaps it’s where I live, but I don’t often meet people who would be considered your target audience. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I thought about it for a bit, and wondered, why would he make that type of comment?  It didn’t take that long to realize that what is happening at least in terms of Ejdalise, is that many people don’t really understand our goals and intentions for this program, and thus think that we are aiming to create a show that is aimed at our smallish, yet active skeptical community. This is just not so.  

In order for a TV series to be successful in a “real” way that’s judged in the scale that will even make a blip in the Nielsen ratings, one must create a program that is consumable on the national, dare I say, international, scale. Too bad really, because that means that we have to create a show that must be, hmm how to say this correctly well… just easily understood by the general TV viewing audience. 

If we went out and created a TV show “For the Skeptics by The Skeptics” We wouldn’t last a season, probably only two episodes.  Forget the major networks, it wouldn’t get off the ground. As big as the community is, we’re not nearly big enough…yet. Continue reading…

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The Ghost Hunt

by Ryan Johnson, Nov 11 2008

So to start off this week, I’d like to address a few questions received from our readers before I jump into the continuation of our story.

Many have asked where can I see this show? Well, at the moment, we don’t have the show in active production. We have finished a pilot episode and demo, and that is being used right now to pitch to agents and TV networks. We are working with some very esteemed individuals and companies that are representing the show for us. We are all making great progress.

As we begin to get solid deals put together, we’ll be sure to let you all know. Don’t worry, when the show is picked up, the entire Skeptical Community and hopefully many other people will know that it’s coming! For our international viewers, we’re not certain who will carry it, but rest assured, we’re working hard to give the show the largest audience possible. If we don’t air it outside of US, you can bet we’ll be working on online and home video options as well.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to share our exploits into producing the pilot with the Dream Team of skeptics: The Skeptologists!

  Continue reading…

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Skeptologists Pre-Production or “How to Make Three Months of Your Life Disappear”

by Ryan Johnson, Nov 04 2008

Ah, Pre-Production.  Think of it as cramming for the big test, or making weight for the fight, or preparing for cadacism.. Oh wait, strike last last bit.

Pre-Production is where all the wheels are set in motion for a production project. By the name of it, I’m guessing you figured out that much, so far on your own.  The team and I had been discussing the finer points of the show, and finding our talent and coming up with great ideas. It was time to set a date, and like a wedding, once you set that date, it’s kinda like chasing a burning fuse. Things start to move very quickly.

We chose to shoot the first week of April, and true to skeptic form, we decided to have everyone assemble in L.A. for the first time on April first.  Boy, I could have played a really rotten April Fool’s joke that night, But I thought better of it. 

We had Skeptologists arriving from all over in a symphony of plane and car schedules. But before all of that could happen, a lot of work by a lot of fine folks had to take place.  We had to figure out just what we were going to shoot, where it would happen and how to get it all done in the precious four days that we had with the cast. Four days.

Continue reading…

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Creating a Television Series is Hard.

by Ryan Johnson, Oct 28 2008

All the elements of TV production are difficult and require much attention, time and money.

Landing a network TV production deal to have the opportunity to show all that hard work to a nation, and even the world, is much like hitting the lottery.

Too bad I don’t play the lottery.

Convincing entrenched, and complacent programming TV executives that you have a program that will change the way people consider their TV entertainment seems to be next to impossible.

I set out on a journey to do just that, and with the help of an amazing production team and an all-star skeptical cast, we’re going to make it a reality!

In my last blog, I shared some of the process to get this idea off the ground.  In this second installment, I want to give you an idea about how we came to decide who should be on our esteemed panel of brilliant minds for the show. Continue reading…

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Where does one start?

by Ryan Johnson, Oct 24 2008

My life as a skeptic was always there I guess. It wasn’t until I was listening to podcasts while traveling back and forth between my hometown of Santa Maria and Hollywood during the second season of the TV series, American Dragster, that I direct, I realized what being skeptical really was. Continue reading…

comments (10)