Women Created Only 20% of TV Shows Last Season

Not good. In fact, we’d call it a failing grade. Shame on you, TV biz. Really – shame!

issues

by Melissa Silverstein

The current narrative in the media zeitgeist is that TV is so much better for women than film. Well, it might seem so on the surface,
because you see more women on our TV screens, but when you drill down into the numbers, it’s not so good for women behind the scenes.

According to new research from the Center for Women in Television and Film, women are doing pretty well onscreen. Women made up 42% of the characters and speaking roles in the 2013-14 season. But even that number is down one percent from the previous year. ABC has the most female characters at 44% (thank you, Shonda), followed by CBS, FOX, CW, and NBC, which is last with 39%.

But it is the behind-the-scenes leadership positions where women continue to struggle. Women created just 20% of all the shows during the same period, which is down four percentage points from the previous season. That means only 2 out of 10 shows you watch are made from a woman’s perspective. There are plenty of shows about women that are made from a male perspective, but only 20% of the shows are made from a female perspective.

Additionally, women accounted for just 23% of executive producers, which is the most powerful position on a TV show. Most shows have multiple executive producers, and those are the most senior writers on the show. (Executive producers (EP) also often include non-writers, such as directors and creators who are there at the beginning but don’t do the day-to-day work. Also, if the show is generated at a production company, lots of times those executives are EPs, but they are not in the writers’ room on a daily basis.)

There are lots of women populating the writers’ room, but they have a harder time moving up the ladder. 43% of producers (which is a lower-level writing position on TV) are women, and 25% of people identified as staff writers are women.

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Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 9/21/14

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

  • Kevin Nealon (WEEDS) & Susan Yeagley (PARKS & RECREATION) have sold a to be titled comedy to NBC about “a recently divorced couple still tied to…each other…through their jointly owned business.” (To which a munchadillio can say only, “Congrats to one of the coolest couples in Hollywood!” I’d be trying to hook them up with each other personally as well as professionally, but the good news is that I don’t have to. They’re already married – to each other. Lookin’ forward to this show, kids!)
  • Brad Copeland (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) is writing the pilot ABC’s new comedy set to star Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. (Who aren’t a married couple and about whom I’m not all that excited cuz let’s face it, Chevy’s onstage antics are legend, and not in the most positive way. And Mz D’Angelo? Well, hasn’t she basically been a kind of a cipher in every role she’s ever played? Good luck, Brad!)
  • Angela Kinsey (THE OFFICE) has joined forces with Rachel Spector & Audrey Wauchope (COUGAR TOWN) to create another untitled series, this one a “female buddy comedy” for ABC. (Sorry, gang, but munchero isn’t much interested in this one. Best female buddy comedy of all time has already been on the air for over 60 years – I LOVE LUCY, yessir. What? You thought that show was about Lucy and Ricky? Watch it again – it’s a Lucy-Ethel vehicle all the way. And the only show in the world that’s ever even come close to it is BBC’s miraculous MIRANDA, which only lasted 3 series. Sigh.)
  • Jeff Astrof (GROUND FLOOR) is writing the pilot for our last untitled comedy series of this post, a “restaurant comedy” for CBS based on some guys who own the Meatball Shop restaurants in New York City. (My suggestion is that you simply insert your own snark here cuz when it comes to meatball jokes, hey, everybody knows they write themselves.)

That’s it for now. 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….)

Yahoo TV Talks to TVWriter™’s Herbie J Pilato

…Cuz let’s face it. Herbie J is the go-to guy when it comes to the beloved old series BEWITCHED. Check it out:

samanthastevensBEWITCHED at 50: How Samantha Got Her Nose Twitch
by Joal Ryan

Bewitched turns 50 years old today, so it’s about time you got something straight about the witch-marries-mortal sitcom: You’ve been doing Samantha’s spell-casting nose twitch all wrong.

“Everybody thinks it was the nose, and that’s why people can’t do it,” says author Herbie J. Pilato, who’s written two books about Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery and the definitive guide to her series, The Bewitched Book.

Explains Pilato: “You have to wriggle your upper lip, and then your nose.”

The very first nose twitch — or, rather, mouth twitch — occurs about five minutes into the very first Bewitched, which premiered on ABC on Sept. 17, 1964.

Newlywed Samantha Stevens, played by Montgomery, breaks out the move in an attempt to magically evict overbearing mother Endora (Agnes Moorehead) from Sam and husband Darrin’s honeymoon suite. Plot-wise, the twitch doesn’t work, but it sticks as a signature move — it’s immortalized from the get-go in the series’ animated opening-credits.

According to Pilato, the script for the Bewitched pilot called for Samantha to work her magic with a vague move — maybe a wave of the hand, or the arm.  But director William Asher, who was Montgomery’s husband, wanted something special.

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How To Be Creative

The title says it all. (Like a good title should, right?)

by Jonah Lehrer

Creativity can seem like magic. We look at people like Steve Jobs and Bob Dylan, and we conclude that they must possess supernatural powers denied to mere mortals like us, gifts that allow them to imagine what has never existed before. They’re “creative types.” We’re not.

But creativity is not magic, and there’s no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It’s a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.

The science of creativity is relatively new. Until the Enlightenment, acts of imagination were always equated with higher powers. Being creative meant channeling the muses, giving voice to the gods. (“Inspiration” literally means “breathed upon.”) Even in modern times, scientists have paid little attention to the sources of creativity.

But over the past decade, that has begun to change. Imagination was once thought to be a single thing, separate from other kinds of cognition. The latest research suggests that this assumption is false. It turns out that we use “creativity” as a catchall term for a variety of cognitive tools, each of which applies to particular sorts of problems and is coaxed to action in a particular way.

Does the challenge that we’re facing require a moment of insight, a sudden leap in consciousness? Or can it be solved gradually, one piece at a time? The answer often determines whether we should drink a beer to relax or hop ourselves up on Red Bull, whether we take a long shower or stay late at the office.

The new research also suggests how best to approach the thorniest problems. We tend to assume that experts are the creative geniuses in their own fields. But big breakthroughs often depend on the naive daring of outsiders. For prompting creativity, few things are as important as time devoted to cross-pollination with fields outside our areas of expertise.

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TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 9/19/14

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Here they are, the most viewed TVWriter™ posts during the past week:

Peggy Bechko: 4 Great Tips on Writing to the Magic

LB: What’s Up with Troy DeVolld?

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Herbie J Pilato: Bewitched @ 50: Happy Silver Anniversary to Samantha and Darrin

The People – and Secrets – Behind Reality TV

And our most viewed resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Logline

The Teleplay

Big thanks to everyone for making this such a great week, and don’t forget to read what you missed, re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!

Peggy Bechko: Writers and the Learning Curve

Networking

by Peggy Bechko

Writers; we’re by necessity much more than that these days. The world of writing and everything associated with it has changed amazingly in the past few years and continues to change every day. Think about it. The internet with it’s amazing resources for writers; research at our fingertips, social media to get out there and meet our readers and promote, videos and so much more.

It’s all a bit of a whirlwind, but if you’re a writer you’re already all too aware that what it means to be a writer is changing on a daily basis. How we can be successful at it is changing even faster. You have to grab the brass ring of what our culture is throwing at us, move forward rapidly, build new skills with alacrity and stay on top of stuff you previously didn’t even know existed (well, actually you didn’t know it existed because a short time ago it didn’t!).

So here are three of those skills I mentioned above to consider:

  1.    Network with other writers. Seriously. We used to believe writers were lone wolves, working in a quiet little room of his or her own. It wasn’t altogether true then, just partially. Yes, a certain amount of isolation and quiet is needed to do the work of writing. That’s just the way it is. Writers need peace. But, on the other hand when you read about historic writers frequently you read about them hanging out in cafes with other writers and artists. They created communities for themselves and that community creation in our times still extends to hanging out with other like-minded writers. However it has expanded to include the social network online. You know, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like. Reach out to other writers and editors. If you spread the word about their work they’ll spread the word about yours. Nurture friendships that can grow and spread over years.
  1. Now’s the time you have to learn to be an editor in addition to a writer. You must edit your own work. Nobody is going to accept sloppily written work. Not publishers or editors, magazines or book publishers or script readers or agents. And, not readers if you self- publish and get your work out there on your own. Gone are the days of dumping a box of pages on an editor’s desk and being met with a smile. Competition is much fiercer these days than twenty or even ten years ago. Don’t give any reader the opportunity to toss your work aside because it’s just too messed up to read. You can hire an editor, there are lots of them out there, if you need to. But polish! Learn little tips for editing such as changing the font temporarily to give yourself a new angle. Let your work sit a few days or a week or whatever you need before you re-read and polish. Ask a friend for a quick read-through. Whatever it takes. Make your work worth reading. And if you’re self-publishing learn to format to Amazon or whatever venue you’re publishing to.
  1. Create your persona and presence online. Start a YouTube channel if you want to put videos out there to promote your work. Create fab pins to pin on your Pinterest boards. Post on twitter and Facebook. Add photos of book covers and yourself. Maybe create a blog or your own webpage. Gain followers who want to share your work. Do it by creating relationships between yourself and your readers. Tell them about your process, why you write, what’s the next big thing you’re working on, anything that will get and hold their attention. Tell them your thoughts on what you might be writing next and ask their opinions. Engage.

 

Peggy Bechko is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE.