EDITOR'S UPDATE: Jason Ubaldi’s series “Youth & Consequences” has since been nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Digital Daytime Drama Series category. Click HERE for more.
A few months ago, I saw a Facebook post by Andrea Ubaldi about her son Jason’s shows airing on TV. I was intrigued.
I’ve known Jason since I was very young. Our moms had us while they were living in the same apartment complex. I immediately binge-watched and LOVED the shows – and messaged Jason to tell him how great they were! When I set out to start writing this column, Jason was on the top of my interview list. We had a great chat.
It is always nice catching up with old friends! I’m very happy and excited for Jason and can’t wait to see what he does next. If you haven’t already watched his shows – you should – they are fabulous!
The successful screenwriter has hit his filmmaking stride:
When Jason Ubaldi, a 1987 Livingston High School graduate, attended Villanova as a finance major, he had no idea that he’d one day become a screenwriter – let alone a successful one, whose skill for writing teen-angst comedy/drama would be compared to that of John Hughes, whose 1980’s films, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off are cult classics.
In 2018, Ubaldi sold two series that went on to air and appeal to this generations’ teen set. The award-winning Youth & Consequences, an American comedy-drama, stars YouTuber Anna Akana as well as Marcia Cross, Cary Elwes, Sean Grandillo and Piper Curda. The eight-episode, half-hour dramedy, produced by Mark Gordon Co., premiered on YouTube Premium on March 7, 2018, to much fanfare. Akana took home the 2018 Streamy Award for Best Acting in a Drama, and the series was nominated for a Streamy Award for Best Drama Series.
An article by Christina Radish, for Collider.com said, “If you’re looking for a fun, smart, funny high school series that takes on a variety of social issues, look no further than Youth & Consequences.”
Ubaldi’s other series, All Night, a 10-episode, half-hour comedy series about an all-night locked-in graduation party, which was created for AwesomenessTV, is currently airing on Hulu.
Prior to these two shows, Jason’s only real “claim to fame” was that his mom is Andrea Ubaldi, who not only introduced Project Graduation, a much tamer version of All Night’s premise, to the Livingston township in the late 1980's, but is also the co-host of L-TV’s “Around Town with Joyce and Andrea,” which airs on local TV.
This distinction is not lost on Jason, who says the idea for All Night arose during a meeting where he was pitching something else. The conversation suddenly veered to his self-deprecating description of having his mom promoting his high school’s Project Graduation party in the cafeteria, every day, during his senior year – which led to AwesomenessTV asking him to write a script about it.
Prior to finding success as a screenwriter, Jason worked on the Maury Povich Show, where he moved up the ranks quickly and brushed shoulders with some infamous as well as famous people. Jason still calls Povich a friend.
But now, with these two streaming shows in the hopper, his screenwriting career is really taking off. Right now, Ubaldi has a few full-length features being shopped around Hollywood. He says that teen-voiced shows and movies are once again a hot commodity.
While the teen experience is now much different from Jason’s idyllic childhood spent in Livingston, Jason writes with his finger on the pulse of today’s teens. He says he often surprises people in the business at meetings when he walks through the door, as he doesn’t exactly look like he should be able to write in the voice of a teen-aged girl.
Jason is also in the process of taking out some series that could appeal to an even younger set, so that his three sons: Spike, 7, (named after Jason’s favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer character); Mack, 4; and Ilo, 1, (named for a character in Youth & Consequences), can watch some of his work.
While Jason’s story isn’t exactly one of an overnight success – it almost is. He didn’t actively pursue the screen-writing business until he was 37, which he says is not only old for this “young person’s industry,” it is old for someone writing teen-based scripts.
Jason, who says he was always known by his family and friends as being a good story teller, answered an ad in the back of a screenwriter’s magazine looking for a teen comedy. He had only written one script at the time – a teen comedy very loosely based on a real party that happened while he was at LHS.
To his surprise, the script wound up in the hands of a Hollywood Manager, who called him up a few months later and asked him if he wanted to pursue a career in screenwriting. Just like that, Jason was on a plane to California.
“It is always a rollercoaster out here,” says Jason. “I kept getting so close to having shows or movies made, but they all kept falling apart at the goal-line. This is how life is out here.”
However, his luck changed in 2018, with the airing of his two shows, and Jason, who has been married to his wife, Jamie, for 10 years, is excited to see what comes next.
“No one sells two shows in a year, let alone two shows in two weeks,” said Jason. “I’m in a really exciting position right now.”
Jason says that for a long time, no one wrote for the teen set because “there were no real bankable stars that assured investors that they’d make their money back” -- but now, with the popularity of streaming options like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu, the landscape has changed, and he is well-positioned for this space.
“When I came out here, I wanted to be the next John Hughes,” he said with a laugh.
On May 11, 2018, David Hinckley wrote an article for TV Worth Watching (TVWW) called, “John Hughes Lives on With Hulu’s ‘All Night’ from Jason Ubaldi.
The article says, “If you’ve ever wistfully wondered whether anyone will make a John Hughes movie again, this should cheer you up: Someone has. He’s Jason Ubaldi, and the movie is disguised as a 10-episode sitcom called All Night, which rolls out Friday on Hulu.”
Sometimes dreams do come true!
Twice a month, I will share stories about people who grew up in Livingston or have a connection to town. Click HERE to learn how to pitch stories for "Where Are They Now?"