Norman Lear’s Sentinel Awards Wants Your Series

by Team TVWriter™ Press Service

sentinel-awards-2015jpgIt’s that time of year again. Hollywood, Health & Society is a program at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center that provides entertainment industry pros with accurate and timely info for health storylines.

With an advisory board that includes Chris Keyser, President of the WGAW; Zoanne Clack, Exec Prod of GREY’S ANATOMY; Bruce Evans, Senior Veep of Drama Programming for NBC, the legendary Norman Lear, and many other biggies, HH&S understands the impact entertainment media have on public awareness and offers many resources, including the Sentinel Awards, which honor “achievements in health and climate change storylines that inform, educate and motivate viewers to make choices for healthier and safer lives.”

With this year’s 16th annual awards, HH&S has reached out to make original streaming network shows eligible in addition to broadcast and cable shows. Finalists and winners will be announced at a special dinner and awards ceremony at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood September 24, 2015.

We at TVWriter™ want to make sure that as many indie and peer producers currently showing their product via YouTube, Vimeo, and the other streaming channels available are aware of this contest and take advantage of the opportunity for recognition of their work and the rewards it can bring.

For details re the nomination procedure, get on over to the Fact Sheet HERE and the Online Form HERE by May 29th. And if you need the human touch project manager Armine Kourouyan is HERE.

Good luck!

WGAW 2015 Diversity Report

The State of Diversity in Writing for Television: WGAW Releases Latest Findings in 2015 TV Staffing Brief, Announces TV Writer Access Project Honorees
by Team TVWriter™ News Service
(in other words, yeah, it’s a press release)

Research Shows Declines for Minority and Women TV Writers Across the Board

All together now: >sigh<

And now the news:

LOS ANGELES– The Writers Guild of America, West has issued the findings of its 2015 Television Staffing Brief, the WGAW’s latest analysis of the state of diversity in writing for television within the entertainment industry.

The WGAW’s 2015 report examines employment patterns for nearly 3,000 writers working on close to 300 TV shows airing on 36 broadcast and cable networks during the 2013-14 season, highlighting three specific groups who have traditionally been underemployed in industry: women, minority, and older writers.

The brief focuses on the writers’ room as the key site for data collection, taking inventory of each writer by gender, race, and age for TV shows covered, including the latest data from the most recent TV season, and providing a unique statistical breakdown by show and network to accurately determine trends for diverse TV writers.

The findings in this year’s brief reveal that not only has very little changed since the 2011-12 TV season examined in the Guild’s previous report in the series – the 2013 WGAW TV Staffing Brief, which revealed “pockets of promise for diverse television writers amidst minimal overall progress” – the situation has grown worse since then. In fact, women and minorities have actually lost ground as compared to their white male counterparts since the last brief, both in terms of overall staff positions and in higher-level executive producer ranks.

Meanwhile, although writers over 40 continued to claim a majority of all staff writer positions, data from the most recent TV season show that their employment prospects drop dramatically after age 50. Such stark statistics continue to illustrate that the entertainment industry remains a glaringly unlevel playing field.

“Over the years, the fortunes of diverse writers in the television sector have ebbed and flowed. While the general pattern consists of an upward trajectory in diverse sector employment, the rate of progress has failed to keep pace with the rapid diversification of the nation’s population. This is significant not only in terms of employment opportunity but also in terms of industry bottom-line considerations,” noted the report’s author, Dr. Darnell M. Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and professor of sociology. “Indeed, research is beginning to confirm the common-sense notion that increasingly diverse audiences desire more diverse storytelling. When diverse voices are marginalized or missing altogether in the writers’ room, it is less likely that the stories told will hit the mark.”

Contrary to incremental gains in TV employment achieved by minority and women writers over the past decade, the 2013-14 season saw minority and women writers’ share of TV staff employment decline across the board, while overall minority TV writer staffing levels remain disproportionate to actual minority demographics of the U.S. population, as diverse writers continue to be substantially underrepresented on TV writing staffs as a whole.

Key findings in the WGAW’s 2015 TV Staffing Brief include:

Women Writers’ Share of TV Staff Employment Declines

  • Women writers accounted for 29 percent of TV staff employment during the 2013-14 season, down from 30.5 percent in 2011-12.

Minority Writers’ Share of TV Staff Employment Declines

  • Minorities accounted for 13.7 percent of TV staff employment during the 2013-14 season, down from 15.6 percent in 2011-12.

Minority Writers Continue to Staff 60-Minute Shows More Often Than 30-Minute Shows

  • During the 2013-2014 season, 61.2 percent of minority staff writers worked on 60-minute shows, while only 38.2 percent worked on 30-minute shows. Multiracial writers and Latino writers were among the most likely minority writers to staff 60-minute shows – 69.6 percent of the time (48 writers) and 65.3 percent of the time (49 writers), respectively.

Writing Staffs Remain Less Diverse for Other Programming (i.e., Late Night, Talk, Game Shows, etc.)

  • During the 2013-14 season, women occupied only 18 percent of other programming staff positions (compared to 29 percent overall) and minorities claimed only 3.5 percent of these positions (compared to 13.7 percent overall).
  • Women were underrepresented by a factor of nearly 3 to 1 in other programming staff positions and minorities by nearly 11 to 1.

Minority Share of Executive Producers Declines

  • Minorities occupied only 5.5 percent of the Executive Producer positions during the 2013-14 season, down from 7.8 percent in 2011-12.

Minority Writers Underrepresented at Major Networks

  • During the 2013-2014 season, minorities were underrepresented by a factor of more than 2 to 1 among writers staffing shows at the major broadcast networks.
  • Minorities claimed 16.1 percent of the positions at ABC, 14.2 percent of the positions at NBC, 13.9 percent of the positions at Fox, and just 11.3 percent of the positions at CBS (where minorities were underrepresented by a factor of more than 3 to 1 among writers).

Despite “periodic advances and pockets of promise,” Hunt asserts that the WGAW’s latest report offers a woefully familiar conclusion: “Much work remains to be done before diverse writers are adequately incorporated into the television industry, and we are losing ground in this effort as the nation races toward the not-too-distant day when it becomes majority minority… Findings like these highlight a glaring disconnect between the increasing diversity of audiences and business-as-usual practices in the Hollywood industry. The fact is that writers’ rooms simply do not reflect the America of today or the America that is steadily emerging.”

Hunt concludes the report by suggesting the potential financial impact of not improving true diversity within the ranks of writers and the industry at large: “Failures on the diversity front increasingly will become failures in terms of the bottom-line of ratings.”

To read the full 2015 TV Staffing Brief, click here.

The Guild’s latest TV brief will be incorporated into the WGAW’s upcoming 2015 Hollywood Writers Report to be released later this year, the tenth in a series of semi-annual reports the Guild has commissioned over the last two decades which analyze employment patterns for writers working in television and film sectors.

In related news, the WGAW has also announced its 2015 TV Writer Access Project Honorees, a group of eleven diverse writers who have competed in Comedy and Drama script categories:

2015 TV WAP Comedy Honorees

  • Chuck Hayward – I’m Not Your Gay Friend
  • Dennis Hensley – Misadventures in the (213)

2015 TV WAP Drama Honorees

  • Natalie Antoci – The Gables
  • Bill Balas – Affliction
  • Marc Bernardin – The Last Remaining Light
  • Cynthia Greenburg – Jamestown
  • Teresa Huang – The Chain
  • Diarra Kilpatrick – The Dirty Dozen
  • Jack Monaco – The Professor
  • Karen Struck – The Compound
  • Rebecca Taylor – La Reina

Created as a proactive response to the chronically low numbers of diverse writers hired in television, the WGAW Diversity Department’s TV Writer Access Project targets television writers in five underrepresented categories – minority writers, writers with disabilities, women writers, older writers (55 and up), and LGBT writers – to help open doors and increase employment opportunities for diverse writers.

The Guild’s peer-judging TV WAP program is designed to enlist its own membership to identify and recognize outstanding, yet underutilized, diverse writing talent, as well as provide viable resources for accessing their work to entertainment industry decision-makers, including showrunners, producers, network and studio executives, agents, and managers. Since its inception in 2009, TV WAP has achieved tangible results, facilitating the employment of numerous diverse television writers over the last several years.

This was the second year that TV showrunners Glen Mazzara and Eric Garcia & Leo Chu organized and led a series of seminars during February aimed at this year’s crop of TV WAP Honorees, which covered such relevant topics as: how to interview with a showrunner, crafting your own personal story, jumpstarting your career, and how to pitch.

For more information on this year’s slate of TV WAP honorees and their work, click here.

Yet more work needs to be done to achieve true parity within the industry: While the WGAW’s TV Writer Access Project is “an important first step toward the goal of diversifying the contingent of storytellers whose work fuels the Hollywood industry,” Hunt notes in the 2015 TV Staffing Brief that “subsequent steps forward, as previous reports have concluded, also will require a renewed commitment on the part of other industry players – the networks, studios, and agents – to go beyond what has been done in the past to address the status quo on the industry diversity front.”

Hank Isaac’s LILAC Wins 3 IndieFEST Awards!

Kudos to frequent TVWriter™ contributor for making a very big score!

Lilac-PR-Capture

He’ll be back on the site later this week with more about the making of this selfsame LILAC.

Who loves ya, baby?

Here’s What’s Happening at the WGAW in the Next Couple of Weeks

A public service announcement for all those who want to know what they’re missing by not yet qualified to become members of the Writers Guild of America, West.

Keep writing so you too can participate in:

wgawwritenowfebClick for the clickable version

Amazon Studios’ January 2015 Pilots Announced

amazonstudiosby Team TVWriter™ New Service

Amazon Studios has announced it will debut its first pilot season of 2015 on Thursday, January 15 on Amazon Instant Video in the US, UK and Germany. It’s an almost entirely pro slate, with just a dash of newbyness to keep the punters (if you watch UK TV you know what that means) interested.

Seven drama and comedy pilots will premiere, including hour-long shows “Cocked” from Samuel Baum (“Lie to Me”) and Sam Shaw (“Manhattan”), “Mad Dogs” from Cris Cole (“The Bill”) and Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”), “Man in the High Castle” from Frank Spotnitz (“The X-Files”), and “Point of Honor” from Carlton Cuse (“Lost”) and Randall Wallace (Braveheart).

In addition, pilots for two half hour shows will debut, including “Down Dog” from Robin Schiff (“Are You There, Chelsea?”) and “Salem Rogers” from Will Graham (“Onion News Network”) and newcomer Lindsey Stoddart, along with a documentary series, “The New Yorker Presents,” inspired by non-fiction and fiction material from one of the most acclaimed and longest running publications, The New Yorker. “The New Yorker Presents” is Executive Produced by Oscar and Emmy-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (The Armstrong Lie).

Customers will once again be invited to watch and provide feedback on the shows they want to see turned into full series. All pilots will be available via the Amazon Instant Video app on Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire tablets, Fire phone, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, as well as hundreds of other connected devices such as smart TVs—or customers can visitAmazon.com/AIV to watch online.

“We are working with great storytellers on some fascinating ideas for the year’s first pilot season,” said Roy Price, Vice President, Amazon Studios. “We look forward to seeing our customers’ response to these new projects.”

Amazon’s comedy and drama pilots include:

Cocked

Created by Samuel Baum (Lie to Me) and Sam Shaw (Manhattan – TV series), Cocked stars Sam Trammell (True Blood) as Richard Paxson, a family man and corporate lap dog who left his family in rural Colorado twenty years before and vowed never to go back. After some unfortunate circumstances, he is forced to leave the big city and return home to help his family’s gun business—one of the oldest in the country. But no good deed goes unpunished. Older brother Grady Paxton, played by Jason Lee (My Name is Earl), who’s a bachelor, playboy and gun aficionado, isn’t so happy to have him back, and Richard’s liberal wife and two opinionated teenage children are horrified by the world they have been thrown into. Hilarity, epic fights and emotional breakdowns ensue. Cocked also stars Tony award-winning Brian Dennehy (Death of a Salesman) as Wade Paxson and Laura Fraser (Breaking Bad) as Hannah Paxson, and Dreama Walker (The Good Wife) as Tabby Paxson. The hour-long dark comedy pilot was directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Skull Island), and Erwin Stoff (Unbroken) and Baum are Executive Producers.

Down Dog

Blessed with good looks, a winning smile, hippie parents, and a Southern California upbringing, life has been relatively easy thus far for Logan Wood (played by Josh Casaubon, I Just Want My Pants Back). In his late 30?s, having coasted through romances with countless women and various random jobs, he now teaches yoga to the trophy wives, hot moms and aspiring celebrities of Santa Monica and Venice Beach. But when Logan and his current girlfriend, a successful and attractive older woman named Amanda (played by Paget Brewster, Criminal Minds) who happens to be the owner of the yoga studio, break up, life starts to get more complicated. Down Dog also stars Lyndsy Fonseca (How I Met Your Mother), Will Greenberg (Halt and Catch Fire), Andrea Savage (The Life and Times of Tim), Amir Talai (American Dad), Kris Kristofferson (Lone Star), and Alysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black). The pilot was written by Robin Schiff (Are You There, Chelsea?), produced by Bob Cooper (RFK) and Michael Fuchs (Death in the Modern Age), and directed by Bradley Silberling (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events).

Mad Dogs

Mad Dogs is an hour-long dark comedy created by Cris Cole (The Bill), and Executive Produced by Cole, Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Marney Hochman (Last Resort), Andy Harries (DCI Banks), Suzanne Mackie (All in Good Time), and Charles McDougall (The Mindy Project). Based on the hit UK series, Mad Dogs follows the twisted reunion of a group of underachieving forty-something friends—a mixture of single, married and recently divorced—who are all at different crossroads in their lives. Celebrating the early retirement of an old friend at his gorgeous Belize villa, grudges begin to emerge and secrets explode as their trip becomes a labyrinthine nightmare of lies, deception and murder. Mad Dogs is a twisted tale of friendship put to the ultimate test. As an inconceivable chain of events unfolds, cracks within the group widen before the friends realize that the only people they can trust are each other, the last people they want to be relying on. The pilot stars Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) as Cobi, Billy Zane (Twin Peaks) as Milo, Romany Malco (Weeds) as Gus, Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos) as Lex and Ben Chaplin as Joel. Mad Dogs is directed by McDougall and is being co-produced with Sony Pictures Television.

The Man in the High Castle

Based on Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning 1962 alternative history, The Man in the High Castle considers the question of what would have happened if the Allied Powers had lost World War II. Almost 20 years after that loss, the United States and much of the world has now been split between Japan and Germany, the major hegemonic states. But the tension between these two powers is mounting, and this stress is playing out in the western U.S. Through a collection of characters in various states of posing (spies, sellers of falsified goods, others with secret identities), The Man in the High Castle provides an intriguing tale about life and history as it relates to authentic and manufactured reality. The hour-long dramatic pilot stars Alexa Davalos (Mob City) as Juliana Crain, Luke Kleintank (Pretty Little Liars) as Joe Blake, Rupert Evans (The Village) as Frank Frink, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy) as Tagomi, Joel De La Fuente (Hemlock Grove) as Inspector Kido, Rufus Sewell (Eleventh Hour) as John Smith and DJ Qualls (Z Nation) as Ed McCarthy. The pilot was directed by David Semel (Madam Secretary, Heroes) and written by Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files), both serving as Executive Producers. Also executive producing are Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) and David W. Zucker (The Good Wife), with co-executive producer Jordan Sheehan of Scott Free Productions (The Good Wife, The Andromeda Strain), and Executive Producers Stewart Mackinnon and Christian Baute of Headline Pictures (The Invisible Woman). In addition, Isa Dick Hackett will executive produce and Kalen Egan will co-executive produce on behalf of Electric Shepherd (The Adjustment Bureau). Christopher Tricarico (May in the Summer) is also Executive Producer.

The New Yorker Presents

America’s most award-winning magazine comes to life in this half hour docu-series pilot. The New Yorker Presents is a completely unique viewing experience that features Tony-Award winner Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) and actor Brett Gelman (Go On) in a short film based on a story by Simon Rich (Saturday Night Live) and directed by Emmy Award-winning director Troy Miller (Arrested Development); a poem by Matthew Dickman and narrated by Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman); a documentary by Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) about biologist Tyrone Hayes based on a Rachel Aviv article; and an interview with famous performance artist, Marina Abramovi?, conducted by The New Yorker writer Ariel Levy. Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) is Executive Producer, joined by Dave Snyder (Death Row Stories) and Dawn Ostroff (The Fashion Fund). The pilot is co-produced by Condé Nast Entertainment and Jigsaw Productions.

Point of Honor

At the start of the Civil War, a Virginia family, led by their West Point bred son, John Rhodes (played by Nathan Parsons, True Blood), makes the controversial decision to defend the South while freeing all of their slaves. At battle against his northern brethren and his best friend and brother-in-law Robert Sumner (played by Christopher O’Shea, Baby Daddy), John leaves his three strong-willed sisters at home to run the plantation that is now without a free labor source. The choice to protect the life they have always known and defend the moral high ground will pit the family against one another and test their strength, courage and love. An hour-long drama shot entirely on-location in historic Virginia, Point of Honor also stars Annabelle Stephenson (Revenge) as Kate Rhodes, Riley Voelkel (The Newsroom) as Lorelei Rhodes, Hanna Mangan Lawrence (Old School) as Estella Rhodes, Patrick Heusinger (Revolution) as Colonel Palmer Kane, Luke Benward (Ravenswood) as Garland Rhodes, Adrienne Warren (Black Box) as Abby, Lucien Laviscount (Waterloo Road) as Elijah, and James Harvey Ward (Low Winter Sun) as Cutler. The pilot was directed by Randall Wallace (Braveheart), written by Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Wallace, and Executive Produced by Cuse, Wallace and Barry Jossen (Sex and the City). Point of Honor is a co-production with ABC Signature Studios.

Salem Rogers

A half-hour comedy, Leslie Bibb (About a Boy) plays Salem Rogers, an overly confident, blunt, hard-partying former supermodel who is forced to face her past and re-enter the real world after ten years in a posh rehab center. Intent on recreating her glamorous lifestyle and modeling success, she tracks down Agatha (played by Rachel Dratch, Saturday Night Live), her former assistant who has since built a career as an author of self-help books to help her win back the spotlight. Salem Rogers also stars Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle), Brad Morris (Playing House), Harry Hamlin (Mad Men), Toks Olagundoye (The Neighbors), and Scott Adsit (30 Rock). The pilot was written by newcomer Lindsey Stoddart, Executive Produced by Will Graham (The Onion News Network) and directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls). Salem Rogers was submitted to Amazon as part of the studio’s open screenplay submission process.

Disney-ABC Announces 2015 Writing Program Winners

disney-abc writing program 2015by Team TVWriter™ Press Service

Yes, this is a press release. But it’s got the kind of news we love to read:

DRUMROLL, please……..

After receiving over 1500 submissions to the Disney-ABC Writing Program, and over the course of 7 months of reading over 3000 scripts (spec and original), conducting close to 100 phone interviews and meeting 26 talented finalists we are proud to announce the 2015 Program Writers:

COMEDY:
Julia Grob
Amy-Jo Perry
Graham Thiel

DRAMA
Brandon Easton
Jewel McPherson
Miguel Nolla
David Renaud
Matt K. Turner

For all of you aspiring television writers we will open up the submission period for the 2016 Writing Program in May 2015. To learn more about our Writing Program, please visit: www.disneyabctalentdevelopment.com.

CONGRATULATIONS 2015 WRITERS!!!