The WGAW is Getting Ready for the 2016 Writers Guild Awards

If you’re a member of the Writers Guild of America, either West or East, it’s time to nominate yourself for the next batch of WGA Awards. If you aren’t, well, now you have something to aspire to. Either way, here’s the info you need:

Awards2016-email

2016 WRITERS GUILD AWARDS
by Team TVWriter™ 
Please note the changes to the eligibility criteria
for some of the Writers Guild Awards categories this year.

 

(1A) Long Form–Original and (1B) Long Form–Adapted categories now include “limited series”

  • Programs eligible to compete in these categories are now defined as follows: “A long form television or new media motion picture is a motion picture, over one hour in length, including MOWs and limited series.”
  • A limited series (including miniseries) is defined as “at least two but not more than 13 episodes with a total running time of at least three broadcast or exhibition hours that is based on a single theme or story line which is resolved within the piece.”
  • In addition, the WGA has eliminated the rule prohibiting series with a “Created by” credit from competing in this category.
  • Programs that meet the WGA’s new “limited series” definition will not be eligible to compete in the WGA’s Drama, Comedy or New Series awards categories.


(5A) Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) Series category has been split into two separate categories: (5A) Comedy/Variety Talk Series and (5C) Comedy/Variety Sketch Series

  • Weekly sketch shows, which predominately consist of scripted sketches, will no longer compete against nightly talk shows, which may feature occasional sketch elements but are primarily composed of monologue jokes, desk segments and guest interviews.

 

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

TV-Radio-New Media Script Submissions
http://www.wga.org/wga-awards/rules-tv-radio-newmedia.aspx
Submission deadline: 5:30 p.m. (PT) on Friday, October 9, 2015

Drama, Comedy and New Series

http://www.wga.org/wga-awards/rules-series-submissions.aspx
Submission deadline: 5:30 p.m. (PT) on Friday, October 9, 2015

Paul Selvin Award
http://www.wga.org/wga-awards/rules-paul-selvin.aspx
Submission deadline: 5:30 p.m. (PT) on Friday, October 9, 2015

Original and Adapted Screenplay
http://www.wga.org/wga-awards/rules-theatrical-submissions.aspx
Submission deadline: 5:30 p.m. (PT) on Friday, November 13, 2015

For specific questions about the Writers Guild Awards submissions process,including which category to submit your program in,
please contact WGAW Awards Administrator Jennifer Burt
at 323-782-4569 or email: jburt@wga.org.

HBO Announces HBOAccess Writers Fellowship Winners

hbologogridby Team TVWriter™ Press Service

HBO caused the interwebs version of a riot awhile back when they opened up submissions for their HBOAccess Writers Fellowship Program and the heavy traffic crashed the site, causing the usual hysteria by those who had problems entering.

Fortunately for HBO and our fellow writers, that matter’s been sorted, and last week HBO proved it had gotten itself all together by announcing the winners:

  • Anslem Richardson
  • Jude Weng
  • Sarah McChesney
  • Yolanda Carney
  • Dedi Felman
  • Joshua Levy & Prathi Srinivasan (writing partners)
  • Iturri Sosa
  • Wesley Taylor

Congrats from TVWriter™! You’re inspirations (and potential arch-rivals, dammit) to us all!

Writers Guild East Wants to Unionize the Web?

wga-east-logoby TVWriter™ Press Service

Whaddaya know? Somebody with some deep pockets and a lot of strength thinks writers toiling away at Big Deal Corporate Websites should get paid. (This doesn’t include TVWriter™, which definitely is a very little deal, decidedly not corporate website – which means “Hey, y’all, you’re welcome to work with us for free any time.”)

Anyway, last week the editorial staff over at Big Deal Salon Media announced it wants to unionize via the WGA East. Here’s how they put it:

Every single one of the editorial employees at Salon supports unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East, and today we’re asking the management of Salon to recognize our union…We are doing this because we believe in our publication and want it to be successful. We’re especially proud to work for a media organization that has championed progressive values for nearly twenty years. We believe this organizing campaign is a positive and public way for us to put those values into practice, right here at home. In the wake of the Gawker staff’s vote to organize with the WGAE, we see an opportunity to help establish standards and practices in Internet journalism. It’s an exciting moment for our field, and we want Salon to be at the forefront of change.

For the record, the WGAE is the only union out there organizing interweb journalism. Not even its left coast counterpart, the Writers Guild of America, West, is putting its foot in those potentially treacherous waters. TVWriter™ wishes everyone involved in this effort the best.

Yours in solidarity, brothers and sisters.

Think You’re Not Being Paid Enough for Your Writing?

Obviously not a BBC writer

Obviously not a BBC writer

by Team TVWriter™ Press Service

Don’t despair, chum, because you’re in good company. The Writers Guild of Great Britain recently revealed that members have reported that the pay they receive under various BBC “shadow scheme” guidelines is the equivalent of about $3 to $4 1/2 an hour…and we’re talking about big time pros walking on EASTENDERS, HOLBY CITY, CASUALTY, and other long running BBC shows.

Turns out that even with agents and credits up the wazoo, writers still end up with a total fee of a thousand pounds ($1527.65) for writing as many as three drafts of a script stretched out over a period of more than three months.  And, according to the WGGB, there’s no guarantee of an assignment during all that time. That’s right, frustrated newbies of the U.S., these poor Brits are busting their chops on spec.

The BBC has, of course, responded because it has lots of salaried employees making – we reckon – a bit or two more than $3/hour who have little else to do. Here’s how an unidentified spokesman put it:

We don’t accept the figures cited…, but we had already scheduled to meet the Writers Guild…for a further discussion…and we will discuss the issues they raise then.

And you thought production company interns had it bad!

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.”