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flexjobs has an opening for “an opinionated TV writer,” which sounds to us like a golden opportunity for many (well, at least one) of TVWriter™’s frequent visitors.

Here’s the posting:

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Break a leg!

Cartoon: ‘Carpe Diem’

Grant Snider schools us on leading the creative life:

TVWriter™ loves Grant Snider and his Incidental Comics site. And we’re absolutely certain you will too!

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Actor’s Wife’

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB:

No Navajo Dog today, just good old-fashioned showbiz, circa 1990. The following soliloquy came from my head, but it’s made up of bits and pieces from all too many women I knew back in the day.

Actors’ wives! Not all that unlike doctors’ wives now that I think about it.

So it goes.


The Actor’s Wife

Happiness to me? A series for my husband,

A firm commitment, twenty-two on the air. I

Came from nothing, but now that we’re here

I’ve learned you’ve got to spend. Everything

Is appearances, which means a good house,

A good car, clothes to kill. That way, they

Think you’re successful, and they want you

In on the deal. My husband’s been acting

For fifteen years. He’s had the lead in two

Series and half a dozen feature films. A

Million dollars safely in the bank, although

That doesn’t give much interest. He wanted

To inspire kids the way the stars of his day

Inspired him. “See?” they seemed to say. “You

Can rise above your beginnings. You can be more

Than your parents and your neighbors believe.

Life can be good. It’s okay not to fit in.”

I didn’t fit in either, but I had no talent,

And no real looks before the surgery I’m

Not admitting I’ve had. So I had to latch onto

Someone who could take me away from

Restaurant hostessing, and executive fantasies.

Love? I love my husband, sure. When I see him

On the screen I get all wiggly inside. When the

Photographers close in on us at a premiere, and

I turn on my smile I can even pretend they’re

Interested in me. Some people really do like

Me too. For myself, I mean. There was that

Aging star at the benefit last night, couldn’t

Take his eyes off my breasts. And he’s seen a

Lot of them, believe me. I gave him that same

Photographers’ smile, and you should’ve seen

His grin. No, he didn’t talk to me. Didn’t need to.

We’d had all the communication we could

Without touching. All that was left was his hands

On me, mine on him, lips, tongues, and grinding.

And, to tell you the truth, that really isn’t my thing.

The men need it so much more than we, and

I’m content with the power the promise of it
Brings. If my husband was hornier,
We’d probably be doing much better,

Because he’d have to listen to me.

What did I want, when I was a kid? Not to be the

Consort, that’s for sure. Not to stand next to the

Star, and be cut out of the picture when it’s published.

I wanted to be famous. I wanted to show up at,

Say, a ballpark—Dodger Stadium, why not?

And have every eye turn to watch me. To hear my

Name whispered by fifty thousand lips, so they

Missed the batter’s home run.

My husband wanted to encourage, to give. Me,

I just wanted to get out. Sometimes I wonder why

We’re together. He gives me the house, and the

Fantasy that I’m no longer in real life. But what do

I give him? An illusion to sit beside? Or is it the

Way I mother, and make his failures all right?

If he had a series, I could respect him again,

But ’til then I’ve got my job. No, no, not one with a

Salary. I make friends with the wives

Of the power, so they’ll tell their husbands

What a good couple we are. Nobody buys an

Actor they—or their wives— don’t like.

Tonight’s Thanksgiving, and I’m real excited.

We’re going over to a producer’s house. Last

Year there was no reason to talk to him, but

Now he’s got a series on the air, and maybe

We can swing a guest shot.

It’ll be a nice family Thanksgiving, too bad we

Can’t bring the kids. Oh no, they’d mess up

everything. They’ve just plain gotten too wild.

I remember when I could be wild.

Do I ever wish I could be about something?

No, no, I don’t think so. Leave that for my husband.

Leave that for the fool with a dream.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

WGA 2017 Contract Talks Entering 2nd Week

If you’re a working TV writer, or genuinely aspiring to become one, this matters more than most people realize. Our futures are at stake here, in so many ways:

“Progress Being Made” at WGA Contract Talks

by David Robb

After a week of hard bargaining, a source close to the ongoing WGA contract talks told Deadline that “there is progress being made and it’s very cordial.” The negotiations, which began Monday, are being held under a strict media blackout at the Sherman Oaks offices of management’s Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

Rescuing the guild’s ailing health plan, which has run at a deficit in all but one of the past four years, is one of the hottest hot-button issues in the negotiations. Several sources have told Deadline that writers are “willing to strike” to maintain current levels of health coverage.

Another flashpoint for a potential strike is the downturn in weekly compensation for series TV writer-producers. The WGA West’s annual reports show that in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, TV writers earned $803 million in wages under the guild’s basic contract, which is over 75% more than the $454 million they earned in 2006.

But those numbers are only based on guild minimums and don’t include the money they make as writers employed in additional capacities, such as producers and executive producers. And that’s where TV writer-producers are taking it on the chin, according to a recent two-season survey conducted by the guild of some 2,000 working TV writer-producers, which found a 23% overall decline in their median incomes from the 2013-14 season to the 2015-16 season.

The leading cause for the downturn is the shortening of many shows’ seasons, with fewer episodes meaning fewer dollars for writer-producers. And that has hit writing teams especially hard because they afford producers two writers for the price of one. Prior to the talks, the guild said that it intended to “address inequities in compensation of writing teams employed under term deals for television and new media series….”

Read it all at Deadline

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – March 20, 2017

Time for TVWriter™’s  Monday look at our 5 most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Ethics in TV Storytelling from ClexaCon

BritBox is Here!

Kate G Sees THIS IS US – Season Finale

Ethics in TV Storytelling from ClexaCon: Part II

And our 5 most visited permanent resource pages are, also in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

The Logline

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Outline/Story

TVWriter™ Writing & Showbiz News Feed

Major thanks to everyone for making this another great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

Ethics in TV Storytelling from ClexaCon: Part II

Ethics of Storytelling at ClexaCon: Continued from Part 1 

About that writers’ room, how does that factor into ethical storytelling? What is the role of a showrunner? How much do an author’s intentions and opinions matter? And is anyone on TV writing queer female characters ethically?

Ethics in Storytelling Panel

Dr. Elizabeth Bridges – Literature Professor & Writer – The Uncanny Valley

Gretchen Ellis – Linguist, Storyteller, Critic – The Ranconteur

Heather Hogan – Senior Editor Autostraddle.com

Moderator Question: TV relies on a collaborative writers’ room, so what kinds of problems does that lead to?

Elizabeth

This is another one where I’d like to bring in a historical perspective because I think that obviously television is a collaborative medium. There is no such thing as the singular auteur, artiste that makes television because there has to be a writers’ room. There have to be different people contributing. Editors. Actors. You name it.

There was a panel at ATX called ‘Bury Your Tropes’. I found that really disappointing. Javier Grillo-Marxuach was the only one who had anything progressive to say. Everybody but Javi on that panel stuck with this idea of the ‘singular artistic vision’.

This idea of artistic integrity is rooted in the idea of the artist that we inherited from the Renaissance. That’s when the artist was the painter, the sculptor, and that’s when artists started signing their name to works. That’s when we developed this idea of the artist with a singular vision with a divine gift from God, and that’s where we get our idea of the artist.

Fastforward to 2016 or 2017, and these showrunners have inherited this idea of the artist, and they see themselves as these folks with a divine gift and singular vision. They probably don’t say it like that in their minds, but that’s the cultural idea we have.

Heather

I mean they do say it. I mean even Rothenberg was: “Well I thought I was going to do it differently.” You see that in writers’ rooms, especially when it’s a male showrunner, like: I thought my thing was going to be so different from the other 175 lesbian/bisexual characters that were killed.

Then when you have women showrunners like Ilene Chaiken (Empire), their whole thing is ‘I’m a lesbian so I can kill whoever I want’.

Elizabeth

Still the trope.

Heather

Right? Then you have Ryan Murphy who’s the combination of both of those things. ‘I’m a gay man so I can just piss on literally everybody.’

Gretchen

We see artists say it all the time. They say: This is my story, and I need to tell it. I need to be true to my story. I need to be true to my vision. I have a lot of very choice words I won’t say here for people who say that. Because it’s nonsense.

You are crafting a story for an audience. You are making a story that people will watch. Especially with television, the point of television is to make money for the network. This isn’t just: I am an artist painting my work of art that hopefully one day will end up in a museum.

They’re creating media that exists to entertain and interact with the audience. In terms of that, they’re imposing a vision and a perception of art that doesn’t fit in this medium. Film and television are not the same as a single person creating a single work of art.

We cannot allow that conception to continue because it ends up with: they believe they don’t have to listen to their audience or even people in the same writers’ room.

Heather

Very simple solution to this problem is to put queer people, people of color, trans people, and non-binary people in your writers’ room. You need more than one black woman in a writers’ room because black women are not a monolith. You need a variety of voices.

Elizabeth

That’s what I mean about this model of the artist. Because at the ATX panel we had Ilene Chaiken saying: It’s okay because I’m a lesbian. No it’s not. So not only do we have to have this diverse team of people working on these projects, but then there also has a be a different model for how art is created.

Frankly, the one we inherited as the singular artiste is not a feminist model. So we need something that is truly collaborative. When you’re talking about something like One Day at a Time, I think we see the results of that. It’s been pretty successful.

People look to the person who authored a book or the showrunner to have an opinion about their own work. Back to literary studies, there’s this concept called the ‘death of the author’. It came along in the 1960’s – 70’s by this literary critic named Roland Barthes.

He talks about this idea that the opinion that an author has after releasing the work to the public is irrelevant because it’s just another opinion. What really matters is the response of the reader or the viewer because that is where the interaction takes place.

That’s where this dialogue takes place. It was meant for viewers. It was meant for readers. It doesn’t matter.

We can go back to JK Rowling talking about Dumbledore being gay. It’s like: That’s great. Where is it in the text?

Heather

The thing that’s made that infinitely worse is Twitter because a writer can just get on immediately after and say: ‘What I meant was…’ But you’re all: ‘Hey, that’s nice, but what I saw on my television was another lesbian getting shot with a stray bullet’.

Gretchen

On some level, I can acknowledge that you didn’t mean it the way I heard it, but this is how I heard it whether you meant it that way or not. What I want from you is to say: I am so sorry. I will do better next time.

From showrunners who did that, their reaction is: Let me explain to you why you should not have felt that way.

Heather

The other problem is, of the people who are watching your show, maybe half a percent are watching you on Twitter. So the cultural impact is there regardless of whether or not you apologize, because now it’s out in the wide world for people who are not part of the conversation. All they’re seeing is more dead queer characters.

The cultural impact goes so far beyond fandom. That’s the impact that really matters in a broader scheme because that impacts the people who are making legislation that is coming back to affect us.

To me the most remarkable thing to come out of Lexa’s death was the fact that places like Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter, and Variety started paying attention and writing about this thing and interviewing queer people and calling it out as a problem.

In terms of Bury Your Gays, one of the huge successes around the movement around Lexa is there is no showrunner on earth can be like: I didn’t know Bury Your Gays existed.

So if you’re doing it, you’re doing it purposefully, knowing it hurts the community, and you’re doing it knowing the backlash is coming your way.

The justification for so long was: Now we have so many characters, and marriage equality is a thing, and Obama’s going to change the world, it’s not like we’re ever going to get Donald Trump as president. Now you’re doing it knowing that the political situation is as dire as it is, so you’re putting active harm into a world that’s not the same world it was even just six or eight months ago.

Elizabeth

I would like to remind everyone that all of those deaths (of queer female characters on television) were being written while marriage equality was being celebrated. Just think about that for a second.

I think right now in time, a showrunner would be hard pressed to kill a character and not have it fall into the trope. I don’t know how you could do it right now. Maybe when there’s more parity, when there’s more representation, when it really is ‘any character can die’.

Heather

(Jokingly) What if a straight white guy with a vision does it though?

Audience Question: Have you seen a show or somewhere on TV or a movie where they did it right?

Gretchen

Wynonna Earp.

Heather

Carol.

Gretchen

I actually think that up until the last, there are some episodes where it’s better or not, but I actually think Sanvers on Supergirl is amazing.

Elizabeth

First half of the season, yes.

Gretchen

One of the best written stories, especially about an older woman coming out. That was so well done.

Heather

One Day at a Time. Orange is the New Black still deserves your support because it’s telling a lot of stories of women of color. May and Sadie both mentioned Transparent. That show, it’s complicated. You can read a lot of great criticism from trans women at autostraddle, but it’s doing some special stuff.

Gretchen

Steven Universe.

Heather

Steven Universe is doing it the best.

Gretchen

Hands down, Steven Universe is doing it the best right now.

Question: Are any of these stories doing this across intersectionality (queer women of color, of different religions, etc)?

Gretchen

Steven Universe and Orange is the New Black, I would say. Then One Day at a Time because it’s about a Cuban family.

Question: Speaking about ethics in storytelling, what’s your take briefly on subtext?

Elizabeth

Once I had ‘text’, I could never go back.

Gretchen

In some ways there’s not a lot of excuses now for subtext. Compare Steven Universe to Legend of Korra. Legend of Korra existed in a time when it was not acceptable to show woman loving women stories on television, so it had to be subtext otherwise they would have literally not been able to make the show that they did. Legend of Korra then, I think, actually opened the space for a show like Steven Universe.

But now that Steven Universe exists, there’s no excuse to go back. It’s that step. Once you take a step that something can exist as text, there’s no excuse for subtext after that.


Back to Kate G: Friggin’ brilliant, right? Check out their sites for more in depth discussions and resources on all of these things. A big thank you to ClexaCon for hosting this panel. More articles from the front lines at ClexaCon to come!

The Uncanny Valley

The Ranconteur

Autostraddle.com


Kathryn Graham is a Contributing Writer to TVWriter™. Learn more about Kate HERE

Have You Seen this Trailer for ‘Duck Tails’ Return to TV?

Art from the upcoming DUCK TALES TV series

by Larry Brody

Phooey!

Donald Duck’s Uncle Scrooge McDuck has been one of my favorite comic book characters since, well, since I first saw him in a comic book when I was 5 or 6 years old. (What? You expected me to give you the year that was? No way.)

He was smart. He was flawed. He was, of course, rich. Most importantly, he was perfectly – yes, I said perfectly – drawn and written by Carl Barks, a true genius of comic art. And, fortunately for all concerned, especially fans of the fantastic everywhere, Barks’ comic book successors have kept the level of Uncle Scrooge’s adventures almost as high. Even today’s versions are beautiful enough to frame.

Art from current Uncle Scrooge comics by IDW

Because of the above, I was as excited as a kid myself when I heard that Duck Tales, a Disney TV series about the adventures of Scrooge, Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and the rest of the WD gang that I’d watched with my children was coming back.

I assumed that the reboot would be as good as the original and that I could share the new show with my youngest grandkids.

But, from the look of the new trail for the new show, I’m now assuming I’m in for a disappointment. Ain’t nothing here that’s even close to the glory that is the real Uncle Scrooge:

Did you watch? Am I right, or am I right?

Where’s the glory? Where’s the travel? The treasure? The glorious greed that made Scrooge…Scrooge?

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong when the show starts this summer. Maybe there will be something magical there. I sure hope so. But until then, all I can say, once more screwing my mouth up into a spit-soaked version of Donald Duck’s voice is “Phooey!”

Oh, mighty god of TV, why must thou promiseth us so much and then delivereth so…little?