Imagine you'd written a sitcom script around, I dunno, a year ago. Then imagine that this script had got passed around a few production companies, got you some meetings, that all went along the lines of 'we liked it, it made us laugh, it doesn't make any sense, what else have you got?'.
So this imaginary script has turned out to be one of those 'foot in the door' things: just enough interesting bits to make producers want to chat to you about what else you're writing at the moment, but not quite immediate enough to make anyone want to stake their house on it.
Then last month, you get a phone call about the script. Someone in a production company not only likes the script, they actively want to develop it. You have a nice chat with Production Company Person, you agree to tweak a couple of scenes and write a three page outline setting up what would happen in the rest of the series.
Then, two days later, you hear from a Development Executive from a Large Broadcasting Corporation. Not only do they like the script, they actively want to develop it.
Now in these circumstances, Interested Party One is not necessarily informed of the existence of Interested Party Two. No contracts have been signed yet, no money has changed hands, it's all very informal and friendly, and the fact that two different componies are a) interested, and b) unaware of each others' existence is a handy card to hold back for play later in the game.
This sort of game-playing metaphor is a kind you will use increasingly in the weeks to come. You may even start to visualise yourself as a cunning behind the scenes manipulator like that bloke with the white cat, or that woman with the dimpled chin from that Sydney Sheldon thing. For example:
INTERESTED PARTY TWO: Hmm, we may need some kind of outline of how you see a whole series going before we go any further.
ME: Hmm, how about, I don't know, a three page document setting up what would happen in the rest of the series? And I could tweak a couple of scenes while I'm at it.
INTERESTED PARTY TWO: Gosh, are you sure you don't mind?
ME: (whispers) It's no bother at all. (beat, then shouts) BWAH HA HA HA!
INTERESTED PARTY TWO: Are you all right?
ME: Ooh bugger, I said the quiet bit loud, and the loud bit quiet.
So anyway, you do bits of work on the script, because both parties have pretty much the same take on the script, and they're both experienced producers and actually rather nice to work with, and their ideas are good, and you do the work and you wait to see what happens next.
What happens next is an email from Interested Party One saying that she's leaving her Production Company to go and work with Large Broadcasting Company, where, it turns out, she will be working directly with... Interested Party Two.
There are three potential outcomes to this story.
OUTCOME ONE: a meeting ensues at which Interested Party One talks about their transplanted projects with Interested Party Two. One of these projects sounds oddly familiar. An enormous fight ensues, I find beheaded action figures in my garden, and my agent is summoned to a dark room to have his little finger cut off by Ronnie Corbett.
OUTCOME TWO: The same start to the meeting, but both producers are delighted and astonished by my sheer political savvy and the script is pushed to the top of the pile, while the film rights to the actual meetings are sold for a kajillion dollars. Freeze frame on all three of us throwing back our heads and laughing.
OUTCOME THREE: I send a shamefully meek email confessing my misdeeds. Interested Party One says 'Hahahahah you twat' and is happy to hand over the project to Interested Party Two, who isn't bothered because this happens all the time apparently. A week later the script goes to the Head of Comedy, who doesn't think it's very funny and rejects it.
Anyway, it doesn't matter, because all this is strictly hypothetical.
Still, cuh, life eh?
UPDATE FOR CLARITY: what actually happened was Outcome Three, of course. D'oh!