Happy Thanksgiving Y’All!

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Welcome to our slightly abbreviated Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend Edition. We’ll be running fewer posts than usual cuz…well, cuz LB’s outta town and we’re ready to boogie in the name of National Gratitude! Yeah, baby!

Have fun counting your blessings! Remember, every time you eat a bite of Thanksgiving turkey, a member of the Tyson family of fine foods gets one step closer to that new Ferrari s/he needs so badly. (And don’t forget the bonus if you try to eat the dark meat: You lose a pound!)

Our full article count returns Monday, December 1st. (The same day at the end of which our wonderful, a thing truly-to-be-thankful-for Spec Scriptacular Contest closes. So get yerselves over there – NOW!

So Wait, Why Aren’t There More Women Writers In Late Night Again?

Time now for a Thanksgiving complaint. Cuz no matter how hard we try everything can’t be a blessing to be thankful for:

Late night writer wimmins - oops, wait, we don't see any....

Late night writer wimmins – oops, wait, there’s only one….?

by Katla McGlynn

The 2014 New York Comedy Festival had a lot of incredible shows featuring women. A panel discussion called “Women Aren’t Funny” brought together hilarious stand-ups, the (female) executive producer of “Louie” and “Orange Is the New Black” star Lea Delaria — the first openly gay woman to break into late night on the original “Arsenio Hall Show” — to speak frankly about the state of women in comedy.

In addition to the panel, this year’s NYCF celebrated women with two more sold-out discussions led by the “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Broad City” creators, an all-femaleTime Out New York cover story and showcase, an incredibly brave stand-up set by the inimitable Tig Notaro and a Carnegie Hall performance by Amy Schumer, among others.

Impressive, considering that just five years ago, the 2009 New York Comedy Festivalhad no female headliners at all.

But one of this year’s panels provided a stark reminder that not that much has changed since 2009, when former “Late Show” writer Nell Scovell penned her Vanity Fair essayto call out David Letterman’s lack of female hires and hostile work environment.

That panel happened to be An Evening with the “Late Show with David Letterman” Writers, in which the show’s 13 male writers (Letterman not included) and its one female writer, Jill Goodwin, answered questions from moderator Keith Olbermann about their process.

Although there are almost twice as many men on the current “Late Show” staff than there have been female writers in Letterman’s entire 30-plus year tenure — if you count both “Late Night” and “Late Show,” there have been only eight female writers: Merrill Markoe, Scovell, Jill Davis, Maria Pope, Beth Sherman, Meredith Scardino, Jena Friedman and Goodwin — Olbermann didn’t ask any questions about the gender divide. It wasn’t until over an hour into the panel that an audience member asked about diversity, a question which head writer Matt Roberts answered:

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Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 11/27/14

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Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • Rob Armstrong & Andrew Orenstein (MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE) are joining forces to adapt Rob’s comic strip Jump Start into a comedy for Fox. (I don’t read the script, so I don’t have much to say here except – another comic adaptation? I hope it’ll be awesome, but still….)
  • Ron Bass (RAIN MAN) and Vince Gerardis (GAME OF THRONES) are co-writing the pilot for ICE, a DirecTV drama pilot about “the treacherous and colorful world of diamond traders in downtown L.A.” (Ooh, downtown L.A.! Dudes in an office, stealing and shooting each other. Yer Obedient munchhausen can hardly wait!)
  • Charlie Grandy (THE MINDY PROJECT) is writing the pilot for 48 HOURS UNTIL MONDAY, a Fox comedy about “one husband’s desperate struggle to not let every weekend go completely to hell. (Yeppers, I’m totally hooked by this premise even though I’m not married. Cuz…married friends – who’ve  taught me more about desperation than I ever dreamed a human being had to know.)
  • Leslye Headland (BACHELORETTE) is writing the pilot for an untitled NBC comedy about “a failed political blogger who restarts her life in New York as the ‘sex’ editor for” a Cosmo style print magazine. (To which I can add nothing except the absolute, honest truth – I guarantee that after I finish writing today’s column and rush to my turkey dinner I’m never ever going to think about this premise again. Just ain’t feelin’ it, y’know? Did I sound like a TV development exec turning down a pitch there? Huh? I don’t really feel that way, but I’m practicing just in case a gig I interviewed for comes to be.)

That’s it for now. Happy Thanksgiving and don’t forget to write in and tell munchilito what you’ve sold today. TVWriter™ can’t wait to brag to all your friends. (And, more importantly, enemies. Hehehe….)

JOHN OSTRANDER: READING MYSELF

transmogrification

by John Ostrander

I recently received my comp copies of the second trade paperback (TPB) collection of The Spectre, dubbed Wrath of God, and took advantage of it to re-read the stories Tom Mandrake and I created back in the Nineties.

The character was originally created back in the 30s by Jerry Siegel who also co-created Superman. Jim Steranko described the Spectre as having the toughest origin in comics. Plainclothes cop, Detective Jim Corrigan, is killed by gangsters but, unable to rest, is sent back as an Avenging Ghost by a mysterious Voice who can be taken as God. He’s also given lots of powers. He may in fact be the most powerful character in comics. Some think he’s too powerful; how can you create a significant threat to a character who’s only slightly less powerful than God? In the decades since his creation, those powers got damped down. Corrigan himself was supposedly brought back to life with the Spectre as a separate entity who took shelter within Corrigan.

When Tom and I got a hold of the character, we decided that having a powerful Spectre would result in better visuals and that Corrigan was dead and had been since the character began. The result has been what many readers declared a definitive version of the Spectre and some of the best work Tom and I have done separately or together.

I know writers who can’t/don’t/won’t read their own work once it’s been published. I understand and sympathize but I always read the comics once they came out. For me, it wasn’t really a comic until it was published. I wanted to experience it as the reader did. Granted, I couldn’t experience it for the first time as they did but I often forget exactly what I’ve written between the time that I finished the script and when the book is published. A turn of phrase, for example, can surprise me. I’ve gone on to other things and that’s where my focus is.

So I came to Wrath of God with, if not fresh eyes, at least with a touch of amnesia.

The first volume, Crimes and Judgments, introduced Tom’s and my version of the Spectre. The twelve issues were tied together with an overall plot that reached a tragic end. The second volume deals with repercussions emanating from that end. The Spectre goes somewhat mad with grief and when you have a character that powerful, it’s a very dangerous situation indeed. His mission is to punish murderers, to find evil, and in the first story of the second collection, the Spectre finds an entire nation guilty and destroys it.

That was extreme, even for the Spectre and I knew it at the time. I wondered if I had taken him too far. Would it alienate the readers? It might be hard enough for them to empathize with a character as powerful as the Spectre. Would such an extreme act drive them away from the book?

In my private life this was also a time of stress and sorrow. My wife, Kimberly Yale, contracted breast cancer and it would claim her life in 1996. I was in a somewhat bleaker state of mind while I created these stories. I was sometimes asked how I was able to continue writing while dealing with Kim’s illness but writing was a refuge for me. It was where things still made sense and with The Spectre I could channel all those emotions I was feeling.

The bulk of the rest of the stories in this volume stem from this first story as we explored the ramifications for the next ten issues. I like doing things like that; something significant happens in one issue and you can follow up on it. It’s one of the virtues of doing a monthly comic; there’s room to explore.

We dealt with issues such as forgiveness and justice, mercy and retribution, guilt and responsibility. While I had become an agnostic, I was a very specific agnostic. I was raised as a Roman Catholic and that still very much showed in my writing. Especially with the Spectre.

Not every story is an unalloyed delight. One story was set in Northern Ireland and dealt with “The Troubles” between Protestant and Catholic there. At least, it attempted to do so. However, this was before I visited Belfast and my understanding of the situation there can only be described as woefully inadequate. Well intentioned but I didn’t have the comprehension of the issues that the story needed and clichés abound in it. It is readable but not as strong as other stories in the TPB, in my own opinion. It’s one of the things that occur when you re-examine your own work; flaws pop out at you. Useful if you learn from it.

One of the great strong points of the volume and indeed of the entire series is the work of my friend and collaborator, Tom Mandrake. We worked together in what is known as “plot first” style; I would break down the story into page and panels and Tom would draw it. (Our gag was that sometimes he drew what I should have plotted.) It would come back to me for dialoguing and it was always a thrill to first see those pages. Tom, in my not so humble opinion, is one of the modern greats in the medium and The Spectrewould not have been the same without him.

It was interesting re-reading the stories after all this time, to re-encounter the person I was back then. It’s me but a different me. I don’t know if I could write the same stories today but that’s how it should be, I think. Our writing reflects who we are and, as we change, so should the writing. The Spectre I would write today would be very different from the book I wrote back then. I have changed and, hopefully, grown.

The stories in this volume, I think, are still worth reading. If you do, be sure to say hello to the Old Me. He’s lurking in there.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out John’s newest book at Amazon.

John Cleese and Eric Idle are so funny people pay just to hear them talk

John Cleese Capture

…To each other yet! This was wonderful to see live last week, but the recording ain’t bad either:

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YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM

Author-Platform

by Rita Karnopp

There has always been talk about how to promote your work once you finally get published.  If you’re like me, I’d rather write stories – promoting takes effort and time.  But a writer must make time and take efforts to create a writing platform.

Oh, I’ve heard it, “Do I really need to have a platform?”  No, not really, but then that depends on your goals and aspirations of selling your books.

If you desire – need – want – commercial success and great sales, then I would say, “Yes, having a platform will make all the difference in the world.”  It’s irrelevant whether you’re an indie (self-published) or traditional published author.  You must decide how you can grab those readers and get exciting exposure for your books if you want to be competitive in the marketplace.

What exactly do we mean by platform?  Simply put, your platform is the means through which you get your book noticed – then purchased.  It has a lot to do with who you know, creating networking, and learning to appeal to the massive world of readers.

You must be willing to take the time to nurture relationships, establish a sound foundation, and create or build effective networking to reach your target demographics and beyond.

So the next question, “How do I do that?”  There are so many ways you can create your platform, and it actually depends on your skillset, how large/small you want that platform to be, and finally your knowledge of the avenues available to help in this process.

Let’s discuss some of those avenues available to you.

Do you have a Website?  I’d say the most important first step will be to create a writer’s website.  It doesn’t have to cost much . . . I use a program called www.web.com and pay around twenty dollars a month.  It’s an easy self-create site –and there are a lot out there – even free sites.  Check with friends of sites you really like.

Do you have a Blog?   Carve out your own writer’s corner space and use it as a place to post articles that establish your expertise in your field. Share news about your book, speaking schedule, upcoming interviews, etc. If you don’t want to do this by yourself, ask a fellow writer to share a blog site with you.  Wonderful writer, Ginger Simpson, asked me to join her blog a few years ago … it’s a great working relationship (as well as sistership) http://mizging.blogspot.com/

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