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Screen & Stage
January, 2008

Flying by the Seat of My Pants

Ed Kay Tops Out In TV
Canadian whiz kid rides a long, high tide
By  Alison Tharen

He was a disenchanted book reviewer, I, a disillusioned children's book author.
'd lost touch with TV writer Ed Kay for a dozen or so years when out of the blue he e-mailed me after seeing a piece I'd written for the debut issue of IN a year ago.

We first collided as caption writers.

He was a disenchanted book reviewer and I, a disillusioned children's book author. To bemuse ourselves between tedious hours of condensing mind-numbing television scripts we engaged in an elevator tryst – a reckless up and down ride, which inevitably stopped on B1. Fade to sunset. Not quite.

His name is Edward Kay and although I scrambled around in the writers basement for a while, he managed to find the up button and has been riding to the top ever since. 

Writing for Canadian comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes during its glory years, seeing his animated series Atomic Betty picked up all over the world, winning a Gemini Award (Canadian Emmy) for the kids’ show Olliver's Adventures and turning Gene Simmons (yes, the KISS guy) idea, My Dad The Rock Star, into an amusing animated original, he's seen a lot of ups in the world of television writing. (Got a nice writer's wad for that Simmons job, too. Ironic. Cut to his high school yearbook: Kay, Edward. Ambition: Rock star. Probable Destiny: On the rocks.)

His is an inspiring story for any young writer.

After graduating from Ontario, Canada’s Algonquin College Journalism program he interned at the Ottawa Journal before moving on to the night desk at the Ottawa Citizen. Too restless and impatient to languish at the Citizen awaiting tenure he started freelancing anywhere a writing gig came up, Air Canada's En Route Magazine, Equinox, Canadian Geographic, The Globe And Mail's (Canada’s national daily newspaper) Report On Business, eventually winning several awards for print journalism.

He had yet to find the medium he was bred for, but he was making friends and influencing people. His print experience proved to be an unexpected asset when he came to the attention of 22 Minutes producer Wendy Metzler who offered him a two-week trial period as a writer for the promising, but still-to-be-proven show. He made the cut and was offered a one-year contract.

Kay slept when he could, wrote like a maniac when he wasn't, and survived the humbling experience of being the only one in the audience laughing at his own material. Busting into the competitive world of TV writing was searing. He had to make his own luck out of ambition, inspiration and talent. Then the contacts started looking for him.

To date his TV writing credits also include: Mischief City, Being Ian, Miss BG, What It's Like Being Alone, I Dig BC, Talking To American', Eckhart, The Itch, and Undercurrents.

Aspiring TV writers, keep at it. The doors won't always open for you on the right floor but if you can learn from Kay's lead you may eventually hit the right button.

Soon he'll add another writing credit to his growing list of done-its. He is currently developing a screenplay for British Redwood Films, a romantic comedy entitled Lost In Montreal.

I wonder if it includes any elevator scenes. I shiver to imagine myself victim of Kay's wicked sense of humour, immortalized as a maladroit Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Nutty meets Numbskull, with the Weird Al version of Aerosmith's Love In An Elevator warbling in the background. Just my luck.

When Kaye contacted me, I was living in the mountains of San Miguel, Mexico, finishing my latest children's book. Geographically only, I, too, had made it to the top. Still tryin' to find that P button, though. Keep getting stuck on 13.

Aspiring TV writers -- are you going up?IN Icon

Alison Tharen is a former staff writer for Toronto, Canada's Grolier Publishing Inc, the author of 28 published children’s books and contributing author to 18 children’s text books. She is currently finishing two new children’s book manuscripts. Email

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Screen & Stage
IN This Issue
Novel To Screenplay: Adaptation 101
Learning The Lingo
Elevator Exposure
Who Profits?
On The (Back) Lot
Lingua Scriptus
Part II: The Script's Key Plot Points
Part I: The Script's Key Plot Points
Origin Of The Screenplay
Scriptspeak: Writing Dialogue

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