Hollywood Is Crowdsourcing for the Next ‘MacGyver'

PHOTO: Richard Dean Anderson and Darlanne Fluegel film a scene from the pilot episode of MacGyver, Sept. 29, 1985.ABC Photo Archives
Richard Dean Anderson and Darlanne Fluegel film a scene from the pilot episode of 'MacGyver,' Sept. 29, 1985.

Hollywood is reaching out for your help to create the next “MacGyver” (or, for the younger future engineers, the next “CSI”).

To kick off National Engineers Week, the National Academy of Engineering today launched a worldwide crowdsourcing competition seeking ideas for a television series with a female engineer lead.

The launch event at the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington featured six of the mentors in the competition, whose specialties range from science-based television production to technology and analytics.

Ruth David, president and CEO of Virginia-based Analytic Services Inc., prompted the question, “How do we inspire young females to go into the engineering profession?”

A recent report by the National Student Clearinghouse found that the number of women pursuing engineering bachelor degrees in the past 10 years has declined by 19 percent.

David described the problem (in engineering terms of course) as an “impedance mismatch” in how the engineering profession is represented to young people. She stressed the importance of finding a new way to “capture the imagination of males and women alike” by creating a better portrayal of what being an engineer truly means.

A panel followed with four mentors in television, who each had a unique perspective as they gave advice to potential submissions.

When asked about the difference between a good idea and a good story, Lori McCreary, CEO and founder of Revelations Entertainment, said you must expand the idea into something bigger. “You have to want to watch her for 100 hours,” she noted.

Anthony Zuiker, the creator and executive producer of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” said all you need is “one idea with one great, iconic character,” and emphasized the importance of character over concept.

Lee Zlotoff, the creator of the ‘80s ABC action-adventure show “MacGyver,” continued with that sentiment, saying that you needed no more than 25 words to efficiently summarize your concept.

“Here’s the character,” he said. “Here’s the story.”

The panelists all emphatically emphasized the importance of taking risks, and maintaining your creativity despite your fears.

“Be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Zuiker said. “That’s where growth happens.”

The deadline for an entry is April 17, 2015.

More information about the competition can be found at The Next MacGyver website.