“Mary Richards,” Feminist Icon?

Noted comedy writer Earl Pomerant (THE BOB NEWHART SHOE, TAXI, MAJOR DAD, BEST OF THE WEST, etc) has been thinking, and we here at TVWriter™ are happy indeed to share this recent thought:

Do you know this woman?

Do you know this woman?

Looking for Heroes
by Earl Pomerantz

Was the “Mary Richards” character from the beloved The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77) a feminist icon?

It seems to me she’s been called one.

But does she actually deserve to be?

It was a question that interested me.  I don’t know why.  I guess it troubles me when people believe stuff that is not accurate, even if it’s fictional characters achieving unearned recognition.

“So Hansel and Gretel were not heroes?”

They burned a woman in a stove!

Okay, so I’ve got too much time on my hands and I’m looking for controversy.

Anyway and whatever…

Before DVD’s and before Hulu, if you wanted to find out something about a TV episode, you had to find the original script and actually look at it directly.  So that’s what I did.  I dug up the pilot episode ofThe Mary Tyler Moore Show, because I wanted to verify something for myself.

That “something” being…

Mary’s intention when she appeared at WJM for her job interview.

My recollection was unclear on the matter.  Was Mary Richards alwaysinto television news?  Did she study journalism in college?  Now unencumbered from her long-term relationship, was she now taking the opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream of investigating malfeasance and wrongdoing, exposing sordid transgressions to public scrutiny?

It turns out that she wasn’t.

Reading the script reminded me that Mary had come there to interview for a secretarial position, which had already been filled, and after a marginally appropriate interview with Lou Grant, she was hired as an associate producer – the joke being that the associate producer job paid ten dollars less than the secretarial job….

Read it all at Earl Pomerantz’s fine blog

Most Read TVWriter™ Posts of the Week Ending 11/27/15


The most clicked-on posts by TVWriter™ visitors during the last week were:

Why Writing For Movies is Officially Dead

Peggy Bechko on National Novel Writing Month

Peggy Bechko on Dreams – Not the Night Time Kind

Kelly Jo Brick: Takeaways from the Austin Film Festival and Screenwriting Conference

SHIT MY DAD SAYS writer wants credit for killing Hollywood’s love affair with Twitter

And our most visited resource pages were:


Writing the Dreaded Outline




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

Get ‘Em While You Can Dept: Free Screenplays


No, we aren’t talking about scripts that the writers haven’t been, or aren’t being, paid for. We’re talking about publicly posted and seemingly authorized copies available online for your – and our – entertainment and edification.

There’s some mighty fine stuff on this list of recent screenplays over at Adelaide Screenwriter. Our thanks to Adelaide Boss Blogger Henry Sheppard for making all this available!

A Most Violent Year
Big Eyes
Dear White People
Get On Up
Gone Girl
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Into the Woods
Kill the Messenger
Love is Strange
Mr. Turner
St. Vincent
Still Alice
The BoxTrolls
The Fault In Our Stars
The Gambler
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Wild Tales

How to use TV writing techniques for a serialized story

What’s that? Some of you still write real stories and not TV or film scripts? Genuine, polished prose? Who’d a’thunk?

Well, if you’re one of the last remaining yet still new “real writers” (as such peeps used to be called long, long ago), this one’s for you:

YouTube Preview Image

by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint came out in 1987, subtitled, “A melodrama of manners.” Combining swashbuckling duels, queer romance, and political intrigue, it’s since become a cult classic, kicking off the fantasy subgenre of “mannerpunk” and spawning two other novels set in the same nameless city.

Now the series is moving in an unexpected direction: online serialization. Unfolding in weekly installments from authors including Malinda Lo and Alaya Dawn Johnson, Tremontaine is published in text and audio episodes by the subscription service Serialbox.

Kushner takes the role of showrunner, writing a couple of episodes and then collaborating to shape the rest of the series. And while much of Tremontaine‘s audience already knew Kushner’s earlier work, it’s perfectly accessible to new readers. Set 15 years before Swordspoint, we meet an intriguing new cast of characters in the pilot episode:

“A Duchess whose beauty is matched only by her cunning; her husband’s dangerous affair with a handsome scholar; a foreigner in a playground of swordplay and secrets; and a mathematical genius on the brink of revolution.”

Speaking to Ellen Kushner in a phone interview, we discussed the longevity of theSwordspoint series, and why she decided to experiment with serialized publishing.

Swordspoint came out almost 30 years ago, but it still has this following where people are willing to wait decades for another book. What makes you keep coming back to this story after so many years?

It’s funny, when I wrote the novel at first, people kept saying, “Well, where’s the sequel?” And I said, I’m not going to do a sequel, it’s just a novel. Everybody dies of typhoid the next year, go away, there’s no sequel!

But the fact is that I’d created a city, and I’d created characters whom I loved deeply, and I thought about them a lot. I wanted to see not what happened to them immediately after the novel ended, but later in life. And since [Alec and Richard from Swordspoint] are both fairly powerful people, to watch how they change the city.

So I allowed myself little treats, I would write a little short story here or there to fill in the gaps, and eventually that slid into a novel. My bargain with myself was that I would only write it if it were a new viewpoint, a new way of looking at it.

The other thing I love to do is to collaborate. One novel was written with my brand new partner at the time, and that extended my sense of the city and what it could be. Tremontaine in some ways is the logical extension of that: let’s get everybody in to play. But in terms of why [Swordspoint] is still—you know, why it hasn’t hasn’t aged out—I think it was before its time, to be honest, and people are just catching up to it….

Read it all at Daily Dot

SHIT MY DAD SAYS writer wants credit for killing Hollywood’s love affair with Twitter

And know what? he deserves it. TVWriter™ doffs its collective cap to Justin Halpern. Well played, sir. Very well done.

tvs_twitter_gold_rushby Justin Halpern

In 2009, When I sold my Shit My Dad Says Twitter feed to CBS, the most common response was, “They bought a Twitter feed? Hollywood is completely out of anything resembling an original idea.” (The second most common was, “Fuck you.” There was a random guy who just tweeted me “fuck you” every day for a year, the longest relationship I’ve had aside from my wife.) If I’m being honest, I would have agreed with all of the above if it hadn’t been my Twitter feed.

Now that I’ve worked as a TV writer for six years, I’ve come to realize why networks were eager to buy my feed. Writers and broadcast networks have a specific relationship. Think of them as a middle-aged married couple who has sex once a week, mostly in the missionary position, then rolls over and cruises on their iPads. Both parties might like to try something new, but nobody wants to make a move that ends up going so badly that you can’t look at each other in the morning.

But then the broadcast networks see writers and cable networks fucking in all kinds of crazy, nasty ways, and the broadcast networks think, “You know, I don’t want to have sex like that, but I would be interested in spicing it up a bit. Maybe next time we have sex, I’d like to try having a finger stuck up my asshole.” And in 2009, with Twitter starting to burst out, Shit My Dad Says was that finger….

Read it all at Hollywood Reporter

Peggy Bechko’s 3 Tips for Serious Writers


by Peggy Bechko

The catch here is that you have to be as serious about your writing work as I am.

So what ‘rules’ am I going to show you? What rigid ‘do it this way’ ideas will I present?

I’m going back to basics and nothing is written in stone, ever. I read tips all the time and I admit I’m guilty of writing them. Rules though, even suggestions are tricky. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. But, there are some strong basics I suggest. Simple, but powerful.

  1. Wake up and bring energy to the time you write. Really, face the day with enthusiasm, joy and energy and you’re going to write much better. So, how do I do this you say? It’s a mental thing (yes you can add caffeine) and a body thing. Maybe take a walk before you write (I walk even when the snow is knee-deep and the chill considerable). It wakes the body and stimulates the mind. If that’s not for you, just move, maybe walk up and down stairs a couple of times if you have them, play with the dog, do some stretches, whatever it takes to get the blood flowing a bit. If you have challenges and can’t do that kind of movement, THINK about it. Seriously, picture yourself doing it. Wake up, center, really feel enthusiasm for what you’re about to undertake. Creativity is dampened by boredom, exhaustion and low energy. Act first to bring yourself up to speed. You’ll see a definite difference in your writing.
  1. I’ve found more and more that a to-do list or some sort of planner really does smooth the way. It helps me keep organized and know what’s up next on my calendar of projects that need to get done. And, planning out the next day or at least the beginning of it means when I sit down (or stand up) at my desk I know exactly where to start and am far less likely to find myself cruising the web or checking endless email and social media. Those are fun, yes, but they can be terrible distractions. Also, if you have recurring deadlines of any kind a simple ‘month-at-a-glance’ calendar is a great help. I have both on my desk, the calendar and a simple list of things that are coming up that I need to get done. Try it, see how much more you get accomplished.
  1. Finally do the most important things first. If you want to get some wordage out there, do that first. Write. If you’ve promised a guest blog post somewhere, get that done. Whatever it is, prioritize. I keep a highlighter handy in a couple of colors and when I create my list for the next day’s launch, if there’s something that really needs my immediate attention I highlight it with one of the colors. There may well be more than one, so I keep one color for the most important, highlighting that most important with one color and something of less importance with another. Then I check things off as I get them done.

Try out these three tips and you’ll find the simple approach with propel you forward in creativity as well as productivity.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her HERE. This post first appeared on her outstanding blog.

And don’t forget Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle.  Grab your copy of Book 2 now! And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page