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September 1, 2015


Why Is Television Losing Women Writers? Veteran Producers Weigh In

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 8th 2011 11:00AM
As the fall TV season approaches, it's worth taking a closer look at the people who have created and written the scripted fare you'll see.

In the 2006-2007 television season, 35 percent of the writers of broadcast network, prime-time programs were women, according to an annual study by San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. In the 2010-2011 season, that number had dropped by more than half, to 15 percent. What happened?

Since the latest edition of the annual SDSU study came out two weeks ago, I've posed that question to a dozen experienced television writers and creators, female and male alike. Most of these professionals, who've worked on everything from 'Battlestar Galactica' to 'Sons of Anarchy' to 'Pushing Daisies' to 'Chuck,' were alarmed by the numbers that the Center released.

For some, it confirmed their worst fears. "The situation is getting worse," said one veteran woman writer. "In the '90s, the networks cared more. They don't anymore." For others, it made them re-evaluate gains they thought women had made. "I had certainly perceived the situation as getting better and better for women -- I am rarely the only woman in the writers' room anymore, and I encounter more women at the higher levels," said Jane Espenson ('Once Upon a Time,' 'Torchwood,' 'Buffy,' 'Battlestar Galactica'). "I remember what it was like 20 years ago, and this is not that."

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Here's what it's like to write for David Letterman

by Bob Sassone, posted Aug 3rd 2009 8:31PM
Bill Scheft has been writing for David Letterman for years (as well as being a novelist), and in the video below, he gives a behind the scenes look at what it's like to write for the show, including how much input Letterman has, what he's looking for, and what jokes you shouldn't do. I wonder who wrote the Sarah Palin joke? (You can see Scheft most nights standing on the stage off to the right.)

[via TV Tattle]

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Get a taste of the Wanda Sykes show through her writer's packet

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jul 24th 2009 3:05PM
Wanda SykesIf Wanda Sykes' appearance at the White House TV Correspondent's Dinner was a taste of her new FOX late night show, then get ready for the appetizer.

Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily scored a copy of the audition packet the show's producers sent out to prospective comedy writers that included a few choice bits that would make David Letterman's Sarah Palin punchline squad blush.

These are not bits that have been confirmed as part of Sykes' first show. They are just examples designed to guide the prospective writer towards the kind of work they are looking to produce when the show hits the air next fall. But even for random examples, they make my diseased mind wonder what could actually get on the air and how many strokes it will cause for elderly housewives across the nation.

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SAG ratifies new contract to avoid yet another Hollywood strike

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Jun 10th 2009 6:05PM
The Screen Actors Guild voted to avoid a strike Tuesday.The long Hollywood labor nightmare that began in November of last year officially ended yesterday when the Screen Actors Guild overwhelmingly ratified a new contract with the studios.

Guild members voted 78% in favor of the new agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), despite calls by hard-line union members who urged actors to vote "no" and force continued negotiations.

It's clear that two huge factors in the SAG approval were general labor strife fatigue and the struggling economy.

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TV 101: Arise, Serpentor, Arise!

by Jay Black, posted May 4th 2009 2:03PM
I've got two for this one: 1) This, I command! Or 2) Cobra LaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaGenerally speaking, if your doctor is wearing purple pants, metal studded suspenders, a blue cape, and no shirt, it's probably best to regard him with a healthy degree of suspicion. Cobra Commander learned this the hard way at the start of the second season of G.I. Joe, when his own shirtless, cape-wearing science officer, Dr. Mindbender, usurped his authority by crafting the ultimate COBRA leader: Serpentor.

Serpentor was grown out of genetic gumbo: by taking the DNA of history's greatest leaders and mixing them all together, Mindbender hoped to create the perfect ruler (or at least one that didn't always call him "Fender-Bender.")

Alas, as is so often the case, Mindbender's plan was thrown off when he was forced to substitute Sun Tzu's DNA with that of professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter. Because of this, Serpentor was cursed with impatience, a fatal flaw G.I. Joe was able to use against him time and time again.

Even though Mindbender failed with his Serpentor, creating the "Serpentor of [insert profession here]" is still one of my favorite games...

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Writers of CSI and Two and a Half Men switch shows, create crossover from hell

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Apr 23rd 2008 12:41PM

William Petersen and Charlie SheenI can't believe this is actually happening. I've told you before how much I hate cross-overs on TV; it's tolerable if it's at least the same genre of show. This is like in-breeding. If CSI and Two And a Half Men were brother and sister, then their deformed, incestual love-child is what's going to air on Monday, May 5th.

We actually reported on this almost a year ago, that the writers of CSI and Two And a Half Men were going to flip-flop and pen an episode of the other show. Well it never happened. Now, according to this press release, it's a go. I would imagine that the Writer's Strike played a role in resuscitating this awkward match-up.

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On the 7th day of Festivus, TV gave to me...

by Isabelle Carreau, posted Dec 13th 2007 10:02AM
Festivus...seven sites worth linking.

The world wide web is the best place to waste time while learning about anything and everything. Here, at TV Squad, we are masters at finding sites related to TV. During last year's Festivus, Joel gave a good list of cool TV-related sites people may or may not have heard about. As he did last year, I decided to avoid mentioning those big sites everyone knows about (Yahoo, IMDb, TVGuide, Google News, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, YouTube, Television Without Pity, Ain't It Cool News). I also tried to find sites that weren't mentioned in last year's Festivus.

Let's sit around the Festivus tree and open the seven-sites-worth-linking gifts which, I hope, will now find a spot in your bookmarks list as useful and entertaining TV-related websites.

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What Isabelle is thankful for

by Isabelle Carreau, posted Nov 22nd 2007 12:07PM
ThanksgivingI may not celebrate Thanksgiving today (as Robin from How I Met Your Mother would say, "The real Thanksgiving was in October!") but that doesn't mean I cannot take part of TV Squad thankful post series.

Television is a big part of my life. I've grown with it. I spend hours with it every day. So it's about time, I give thanks for having television in my life!

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How is your favorite show affected by the WGA strike?

by Jackie Schnoop, posted Nov 14th 2007 8:24PM
Shows affected by the WGA strikeAs the WGA strike continues, it's not only Letterman and Leno who won't be getting paid. Many shows are already in hiatus or laying off staffers due to production shutdowns.

Show fans are searching high and low trying to find out the status of their favorite shows. Search no more. I researched the web and have compiled the most complete list I can at this time to let you know where your favorite show stands.

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Go Backstage at Saturday Night Live

by Adam Finley, posted Apr 6th 2007 9:01AM

snlOver on NBC's site for SNL, there's a new (I'm pretty sure it's new*) section called Saturday Night Live Backstage. The section includes backstage videos (natch) and an interactive feature called "Star in Weekend Update" that allows registered users to edited together clips from the "Weekend Update" segment into an annoying, confusing mess that's not even remotely amusing.

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30 Rock: The Source Awards

by Julia Ward, posted Mar 2nd 2007 2:32AM
30 Rock The Source Awards(S01E16) You can't hit it out of the park every time. While "The Source Awards" delivered plenty of funny, the episode seemed a bit off-kilter. It had fewer laughs-per-minute than the past few episodes, and structurally, I think the writers couldn't decide which story to foreground. Maybe, they couldn't decide if LL Cool J or Wayne Brady should get more lines. My answer to that quandary - Ghostface Killah. Who, other than Dave Chappelle, gets the Wu on their sitcom? You don't see Raekwon and GZA turning up on Scrubs? (They haven't been on Scrubs, right?) Actually, this points to a sorta interesting and unexpected thing about 30 Rock. In addition to being your weekly one-stop shop for Alec Baldwin greatness, Tina Fey smartness and all-around goofiness, 30 Rock is one of the only comedy outlets sending up the excesses of hip-hop culture and white guilt on a regular basis.

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30 Rock: The "C" Word

by Julia Ward, posted Feb 16th 2007 2:30AM
30 Rock C Word(S01E14) The torch has passed. If Alec Baldwin has a spiritual predecessor in his portrayal of network executive Jack Donaghy, it is Rip Torn as Larry Sanders' producer Artie on The Larry Sanders Show. Putting Alec Baldwin and Rip Torn on the small screen together was a genius move. (Having Alec Baldwin sing "Simply the Best" to Rip Torn's portrait - one of the funniest jokes I've seen all season.) It's just too bad they barely had any screen time together. That was a match made in comedy heaven. Fortunately, there was more than enough funny to make up for the missed opportunity.

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Comedians spoof Lost writers room

by Anna Johns, posted Jan 18th 2007 9:31AM
lost writers; super deluxeWhat the hell is going on in the Lost writers room, anyway? I mean, are those guys on crack or what? Those are questions I asked myself after the first six episodes of Lost this season. The comedy troupe Olde English have a great video sketch of their interpretation of the Lost writers room. The sketch, which is NSFW because of some profanity, points out all the open mysteries and takes us through the "creative process" of the Lost writers. Their interpretation? Basically, the Lost writers are over-caffeinated slackers who have been locked in a room with a countdown clock for way too long.

Check it out here (crank it up because the audio is super low).

[Thanks, Jason!]

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I'm with Rolling Stone premieres in January

by Julia Ward, posted Dec 14th 2006 8:03PM
Rolling StoneMTV, a network that can no longer claim to be the "music authority," and Rolling Stone, a magazine that lost its counterculture credibility when Hunter S. Thompson and Lester Bangs pulled up stakes over twenty years ago, have teamed up for a reality series - I'm with Rolling Stone - that follows six young writers vying for a full-time contributing editor slot at the magazine.

The series, which TV Squad reported on earlier this year, will make its debut on January 7th at 10PM for a ten-episode run. The six contestants were chosen from a pool of several thousand applicants. They spent this past summer fielding writing assignments from Rolling Stone's editors - including artist profiles, political coverage and event reviews. Some of the artists that turn up in the series include Ghostface Killah, We Are Scientists, The Roots and Band or Horses.

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WGA Award nominees announced

by Julia Ward, posted Dec 14th 2006 8:26AM
Tina Fey 30 RockThey're not as flashy as the Golden Globes by a long shot, but who wouldn't want to be honored by a jury of their peers? The Writers Guild Award nominees were announced yesterday with The Simpsons and The Office leading the pack. Winners will be announced during simultaneous New York and LA awards shows on February 11th. As far as I know, there is no plan to televise the awards, which is a shame since writers would probably prepare something slightly more interesting than the standard awards show fare - "Oh my God, I can't believe it...," "I didn't think I'd win, but I wrote a few names down on a cocktail napkin that I'll now produce from my pocket..." and "I'd like to thank my agent."

You can check out the WGA's list of drama, animated, variety and comedy nominees after the jump. (If you want to know who got nominated for short-form documentary or something, I'd recommend you head straight to the WGA's site. I'm only talking big money here.)

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