John Ostrander: TV Superheroes Come and Go

by John Ostrander

Barbara-Gordon-Oracle(SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! Spoiler spoiler spoil spoil spoilery spoilers. I’m chatting this week about the events on some of the superhero TV shows last week. If you recorded them and intend to watch them later, give this a pass. Here endeth the warning.)

It was an interesting week in superhero TVland – specifically, DC superhero TVland. At least for me. I had a personal connection to some of them.

Arrow had a few events, some minor, one major. The character Felicity who is their computer geek expert recently got shot and it appears she has nerve damage to the spine and now has resumed her place with the team in a wheelchair. Sound like anyone we know? Yup – Oracle, whom my late wife and writing partner Kim Yale and I created from the remains of Barbara Gordon. Oh, they’re not calling her that but that’s who she is, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.

They also had Felicity dealing with a hallucination of her younger self, perhaps brought on by pain medication or even an aftereffect of anesthesia. What’s interesting is that younger Felciity is the spitting image of Death from the Sandman series – pale skin, raven dark hair, dressed in black, with an ankh necklace. However, they don‘t reference Death at all. They just grab her look. Guess Felicity was really into the Goth scene back then.

The major event was – they killed off their version of Amanda Waller. Bad guy just suddenly shot her in the head without warning. That was startling, I will admit, as it was no doubt intended to be. Since I get a little bit of money every time Amanda shows up on Arrow (or anywhere), her death was not a terribly pleasant surprise.

OTOH, this was a young, pretty, skinny Waller which is not how I saw the character. When I created the Wall, I saw her as a certain age and a certain heft for a variety of reasons. The bulk made her more physically intimidating. Also, I wanted a character who was unlike other comic book characters. Being black, middle aged, and plus-sized did that. I understood that this was the CW and that’s what the CW does – young and gorgeous is the rule of the day, every day. I did nott and do not object to their interpretation. And we have Viola Davis playing Amanda in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie and I’m looking forward to that. (The second trailer came out for the Squad movie as well recently and it’s looking real hot, IMO.)

There was another unexpected death in DC superhero TV-land this week and it was in the second episode of the new DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow. On the team is the CW version of Hawkman and Hawkgirl (you couldn’t call her Hawkwoman, CW?) and, lo and behold, they offed Hawkman this week. Well, boy howdee, that was a stunner.

I didn’t create Hawkman but I’d written him for a while (although it was alien Katar Hol rather than Carter Hall) so I did have a personal attachment to him. I’ll continue watching for now just to see where they go with all this but I’m not sure of its longevity.

The last event happened for me on Supergirl over on CBS rather than the CW. The main character is alright but, for me, the real draw is the Martian Manhunter, J’onn J’onzz. Tom Mandrake and I did a series on JJ in which we explored more of his society and culture. For example, it had been long established that, on Mars, J’onn had a wife and daughter who died. No one, however, had ever given them names, so I did. The daughter I named K’ym as a tribute to my late wife. On last week’s Supergirl episode, J’onn went into some of his past. He mentioned two daughters, one of whom was named K’ym.

That pleased me a lot. It was just a small thing but I know Kim would have been very pleased. I can almost hear her giggling and see her bouncing up and down with glee. Most pleasant.

So that was my week in Superhero TVland. How was yours?

Hypable.Com Needs a New TV Writer

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Hypable, a site dedicated to in-depth coverage of various genre fandoms uses volunteer writers to cover TV, movie, and book series in their chosen arenas, and right now they’re looking for a writer who can…oh, wait, let them tell it:

Today we’re looking to bring on a writer who can cover at least three of the following television shows: Scandal, American Horror Story, The Catch, The Vampire Diaries, and Quantico.

By agreeing to cover these, please know that we will ask you to write at least three original articles per week, per show while it’s in-season. While the show is not airing there are far fewer requirements. We also ask that each writer covers at least one in-season show all year (in other words: when your usual shows are off in the summer, we’d like you to write about a show that airs over that summer).

While this is a volunteer position (we pride ourselves on being run by fans and not a corporation), we’ll help you get the experience you need if you’re pursuing a career in writing about TV. What’s more: if you’re in college and looking for the coolest internship ever, Hypable can offer internship credits! (Staying at home to write about TV? What could be better!?)

We think this is a good opportunity – almost as good as, you know, volunteering to write for a certain even cooler (as in ubercool, ya hear?) site called TVWriter™. Details on how to apply for the Hypable gig are HERE

While we’re at it, for details about becoming a writer or even a Contributing Editor (if you have the cred) email us HERE

Why TV Needs More Women

Oh, teacher, call on me to answer that! Please! Please! I know why TV needs more women. Cuz TV is just like, erm, Mars! Dry, barren, and aching to be regenerated.

Here’s the cheat sheet. Let’s see if I came close:

This is not a sexist image. This is not a sexist image. This is not a sexist image...it's just funny.

This is not a sexist image. This is not a sexist image.
This is not a sexist image…it’s just funny.

THE EXPANDING ROLE OF WOMEN IN TELEVISION
by Kathleen Morris

Television hasn’t always been kind to women. Their roles have most often consisted of being two-dimensional space fillers and compliments to the men they shared airtime with. But it seems that things are taking a turn for the better. One indication of this is the amount of shows on-air at this time that have females playing the lead role. Shows like CBS’s Supergirl, ABC’s Scandal and HBO’s Veep. Prime-time television isn’t the only medium showcasing female lead characters who have genuine relatability. Netflix has its own share of original shows that offer that, such as Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones,The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and House of Cards. These shows, along with others like them, are changing television, marking a new era of entertainment.

Shows like these are making a point of depicting women as they really are: people who have real complexity, depth and emotions. This is a stark contrast to shows of the past where, on male-dominated screens, the few females featured had little or no character development. This is such an important thing. Television is a staple of American culture, shaping our views and opinions. And whether you choose to watch shows on an actual television, on your laptop, or on your phone, they’re affecting you. Having exposure to these progressive shows can have a good effect on viewers in the long run, helping to bridge the gap between men and women.

That’s not the only benefit of these shows. Women now have people on television who they can better relate to….

Read it all at Springfield College Student Media

Turning Pro (Rookie Writer to Professional)

by Diana Black

the rookieIf what follows doesn’t resonate with you, then do whatever does. The important thing is to be writing and working on your craft every day. You’ll never take yourself seriously or be taken seriously by others if you don’t start thinking and acting like a professional.

Ideally, at any one time you should be taking actionable steps on a daily basis – with any or all of the following: stories in ‘Creative Preparation’ stage, stories ‘In Development’ – either in the vomit (first) draft stage or being rewritten and polished. And finally, stories in ‘Pitch/Marketing’ stage – you’re pitching it/them directly or researching and/or organizing to market in some way. Your daily workload will of course depend on how many you have and in what stage.

Stories in ‘Creative Preparation’ stage are ideas/concepts in rough-note form. No matter how outrageous/silly these notes might be, don’t discard them – ever – lock them in a drawer. People know you’re a writer and such is expected of writers and you are one aren’t you? They’ll not suspect you of being a serial killer but mark it ‘fiction’ if you have to. Always have a notebook handy – jot down ideas, characters, events etc. – immediately – wherever you happen to be and whenever they present themselves. You’ll think you’ll remember that stupendous idea later but chances are you won’t.

For those ‘In Development’ – aim for at least 5 – 10 pages on a daily basis. Get the ‘Table Read’/s done, once into your 3 rd or 4 th draft and put ego aside for a while. If you leave the ‘read’ ‘til its polished – you’ll think it’s ready and if you’ve had professional actors on board, they’ll have things to say. There’s also professional script coverage – pricy but if you’ve chosen wisely – the notes should be comprehensive. For both forms of feedback, listen then address the comments as you see fit. Don’t allow people to fuck with [it] to the point where it’s no longer recognizable – you had a great concept/premise that you tested on those you trust long before you put serious pen to paper – so don’t lose sight of that and serve your story faithfully and well.

For ‘Pitch/Marketing’ stories – devise a strategic plan to generate interest in and ultimately sell your creative project. To generate interest, submit it into screenwriting competitions – ones that in Stephanie Palmer’s way of thinking are highly regarded in the industry with the potential to lead to something bigger. Lots of production companies apparently use competitions as a ‘Gatekeeper’ these days. Regarding selling, don’t be disrespectful and throw your ‘gift’ out on the street. You might get lucky but if it now belongs to those who’d trash it beyond recognition – will you respect yourself in the morning? Being judicious is not being overly precious.

Develop a database/list of prospective buyers – those working in your particular genre and within the perceived budget range. Have you checked out how their previous work fared? Okay, you’ve narrowed the field down to those who appear to be professional filmmakers with a strong skill set and a professional approach – great – but can you get them to read it? Many refuse, so be polite and professional but don’t necessarily take that first “No” as the final answer – they may be just testing how determined you are. Offer them something else or express a willingness to take on writing assignments and to that end, ask whether you can send them a writing sample – they’ll know you’re professionally committed and not a ‘one-show pony’.

If they’re open to receiving a well-crafted Query Letter (QL), present it, but don’t hold your breath – pitch and move on. The actors among you know – the ‘job’ is to audition, not necessarily ‘book’ the job and the same applies here – create quality material and pitch it that is if you believe in ‘the product’ enough to put your neck out on its behalf and if so, be brave, determined and …get busy!

WGAW Calendar of Events for February, 2016

wgaw calendar feb 2016The Clickable Version is Here

“Golden Age of TV?” This? Really?

If this is the Golden Age of Television, how do we explain…this:

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Two-Thirds Of TV Viewers Say They Get Frustrated
Trying To Find Something Worth Watching
by Chris Morran

If you’ve wasted minutes of your life scouring the hundreds of available TV listings for something — anything — to watch, you’re not alone. A new survey shows that the large majority of TV watchers (especially those with families) are frustrated by the difficulty of locating something you might enjoy.

This is according to a new survey from Digitalsmiths, which asked thousands of U.S. consumers about their TV and streaming video behaviors and found that many of us are staring at the TV listings with glazed-over eyes.

Nearly two-thirds (64.2%) of all respondents said they at least occasionally experience frustration at their inability to find something worth watching. More than 1-in-10 (11.1%) of us say it’s so bad that they “always” have difficulty locating a show that won’t be anything other than background noise for them.

If it’s that problematic for an individual to pick a TV show, it only gets worse when more people are in the room. When asked about trying to find something that pleases multiple viewers, the overall level of frustration jumps to 71.4%. Interestingly, the percentage of people who “always” get frustrated finding a show remains virtually the same (11.4%), perhaps indicating that these folks might be a little hard to satisfy.

While it might seem like throwing more channels at people could solve this problem, the overwhelming majority (76.7%) of TV viewers say they are sick of paying for channels they don’t watch and would love to be able to cherry-pick their ideal TV lineup.

As shown in a previous Digitalsmiths survey, most respondents would only go with about 17 to 18 different channels and would be willing to pay around $40/month for that privilege.

And once again, the top choices for channels that would be in this ideal a la carte lineup were dominated by the broadcast networks and the biggest basic cable channels (A&E, Discovery, History), but not ESPN, which didn’t even make the cut for the top 20 in this survey — in spite of being the single-most expensive basic channel in anyone’s pay-TV package….

Read it all at Consumerist