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Archive for April, 2014

Sentinel Awards to Honor Entertainment That Gives Voice to Topics of Health and Climate Change

sentinal By Armine Kourouyan Writers and producers are now eligible to submit entries for the annual Sentinel Awards, which since 1999 have honored TV shows and movies that inform, educate and motivate viewers to make choices for healthier and safer lives.

The awards are sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and presented by Hollywood, Health & Society, a program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center.

This year, storylines will be recognized in the following categories: Drama, Comedy, Serial Drama, Climate Change, Reality/Talk/Documentary, Children’s Programming and Spanish-language.

“TV writers and producers not only entertain audiences, but they affect them as well,” said Martin Kaplan, director of The Norman Lear Center. “We know this both from our research, and from stories that viewers tell. This award recognizes the responsible and creative use of that power by television writers and producers.”

Kate Folb, director of Hollywood, Health & Society, added that “writers know that accurate and realistic portrayals make for more compelling stories. They contact us because they know we will provide them with information and access to credible experts—fast and for free. We work with dozens of shows across all genres, networks and cable channels on just about any health or climate change topic you can imagine.”

The 2014 winners will be selected through two rounds of judging. Subject matter experts from the CDC and other partner organizations will review entries for accuracy. Judges from entertainment and public health organizations will review finalists in each category for entertainment value and benefit to the viewing audience to determine the winners. The deadline for this year’s entries is May 30, and information for applicants can be found at

Last year, the Lifetime movie Call Me Crazy: A Five Film received first place in the Primetime Drama (Major Storyline) category for its portrayals of people dealing with mental illness. The ABC hit series Grey’s Anatomy won in the Primetime Drama (Minor Storyline) category for an episode involving a homeless patient whose drinking obscures a serious condition. Enlightened, a TV series on HBO, won in the Primetime Comedy category for a storyline on alcoholism and rehabilitation, and Doc McStuffins on the Disney Junior channel won in the Children’s programming category on the topic of sun exposure.

The first place award for Daytime Drama went to Days of Our Lives for a storyline on Alzheimer’s, and the HBO movie Mary and Martha took top honors in the Global Health category for its story about two women who turn their personal grief into a call for action against malaria in Africa. Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) won in the Climate Change category for a compilation of the show’s interviews on global warming. Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (HBO) was the inaugural winner in a new Sentinel category, Reality, for the topic of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Funded by the CDC, The California Endowment, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ClimateWorks, the Grantham Foundation, the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Barr Foundation and the Energy Foundation, Hollywood, Health & Society provides entertainment industry professionals with accurate and timely information for storylines dealing with health and climate change through consultations and briefings with experts. Based at The Norman Lear Center, HH&S is a one-stop shop for writers, producers and others in search of credible information on public health and climate change topics. For more information about resources for writers, go to

The Norman Lear Center is a multidisciplinary research and public policy center studying and shaping the impact of entertainment and media on society. From its base in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the Lear Center builds bridges between faculty who study aspects of entertainment, media and culture. Beyond campus, it bridges the gap between entertainment industry and academia, and between them and the public. For more information, visit

Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is among the nation’s leading institutions devoted to the study of journalism and communication, and their impact on politics, culture and society. With an enrollment of more than 2,000 graduate and undergraduate students (as of Fall 2011), USC Annenberg offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in journalism, communication, public diplomacy and public relations. For more information, visit

Call For Submissions: TV Pilots Resurrected

The Writers Guild of America, East’s popular TV Pilots Resurrected competition is back! On July 22, we will feature readings of one comedy and one drama, each a previously unproduced television pilot.

The readings will be cast, directed and performed by experienced industry professionals at the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center amphitheater at Lincoln Center. WGAE President Michael Winship will conduct a Q&A with the writer after each reading. A reception will follow.

To enter, submit your script as a PDF or MS Word file attachment to (Entries should either be half-hour comedies or 20 minute excerpts from an hour-long drama). Include a one paragraph bio in the body of your email along with your name and contact information, a logline and any comments.

Do NOT include your name or other identifying information on the title page. This is a blind entry process. Only the title should appear on the cover page. The competition is open only to WGAE members. Only one submission per member will be accepted, and submissions from members who have won a WGAE screenplay or pilot reading competition in the past two years will not be considered.

The deadline for submissions is 12am on Monday, April 21.



Tuesday, May 20,7pm

Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center, 144 West 65th Street, NYC

Join us for staged readings of excerpts from two new scripts, SOMETIMES LIFE IS HARD by Robbie Chafitz and WEATHER OR NOT by Suzanne Johnson.

Cool Tech: DSTRUX

We often get asked what a safe way to email a script, treatment or materials.

First off, register your script with Writers Guild of America, East through our Script Registration. ($10 for 10 years of protection).

When it comes to emailing your materials, check out DSTRUX, a new tech tool that will help you stop worrying about your work falling into the wrong hands. DSTRUX allows senders to control who can see your sent work. Users can block materials from being forwarded and much more. Watch the below video to learn more about DSTRUX.

Writers Guild of America, East members can sign up for a FREE year of DSTRUX by visiting before April 14, 2014.

Why Writers Are The Heroes Of Our Time

Richard VetereBy Richard Vetere

In this age of technology during this reign of science, artists–for me, more specifically, writers–are the true heroes of our time.

The reason being, a storyteller is the keeper of the flame of a culture, the moral compass for a community, the one who sacrifices their own safety in anonymity by putting themselves out there. Stare at your smartphone all you want and relish in its computing capability but it will tell you absolutely nothing about yourself or what your life means. Writers look for the meaning of things and we look to them to tell us about ourselves.

Writers create characters that resonate with us for decades and sometimes for centuries. Hamlet, Maggie “The Cat,” David Copperfield, Gatsby, and Jane Eyre are just a handful and all of them are the product of a writer’s imagination.

Writing is and always will be a vocation. Writers are born and spend their formative years learning the craft with an apprenticeship at the canvas of experience. Science is all about trial and error and never examines what things mean where writers do the opposite – they strive to answer that question by telling the story of a character. They leave it up to us to make sense out of it. And writers dedicate themselves to the complexity of language the one thing that separates us from everything else.

In my new novel, The Writers Afterlife [Three Rooms Press, $16.95], Tom Chillo is a dedicated artist. He writes scripts for movie and TV just so that it can afford him the time to write what he truly wants to write, which are novels and plays where the author owns the work both legally (as in the copyright law) and artistically. However, in my novel Tom dies suddenly at the age of 44 consequently the same age Shakespeare started writing his own great dramas.

Right after his death Tom finds himself in the Writers Afterlife where he must reside in the Valley of the Those on the Verge. It is a sort of limbo where writers wait for all eternity, if it takes that long, for their work to be recognized so that they might dwell on the hill with the Eternals who include Shakespeare, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Jane Austin and the other greats. Who else would spend a lifetime hoping to be recognized? Some inventors, some explorers but in general writers do.

I like writing about artists . I’ve written about Caravaggio, Machiavelli the playwright and in my contemporary work most of my heroes are writers Why? Because writing is what I do, it’s what I have done for all of my adult life. I write movies, plays, teleplays, television shows, poems and novels and in the end, just like Tom, it’s all the same. And in the end most writers are the same no matter who they are — men, women, young and old. Every writer has to approach the blank space in front of them or the blank piece of paper the same way. A writer needs to overcome his own own insecurities and fill the page.

The hard part is always the beginning, the middle and the end. Writers have to wake up, look around, at the world, their friends and themselves and find stories. They then have to figure if those stories are worth telling and then how to tell those they believe are worth telling. And that is only half the battle. After the writing is completed, then they have to wait and see if anyone outside of themselves cares and finds value in what they have spent sometimes years creating.

And writing never ends, meaning writers are always writing even when they are not doing it physically. Their entire being is directed toward working out in their minds and in their hearts the story they want to tell.

In the end, yes, we do know some statesmen, scientist and money makers of the past but when you really dig deep in the annals of human existence, it’s the poets who we know. The writers who told us about the people they were and who their people were. We read them to know about ourselves. That is why they are as relevant as if they wrote today. Smart phones may be new but human nature probably hasn’t changed one iota.

The wonderful writer William Manchester once wrote that heroism is not based on a single moment when a soldier throws himself on a grenade to save his comrades, but acting heroically is the dedication to a purpose through a lifetime. That is my perfect definition of a writer; someone who dedicates his or her life to searching for the meaning of that life and the lives of others through the marvelous and mysterious gift of storytelling.

Originally published on The Huffington Post. Republished with permission of the author.

Join the WGAE Softball Team Today! Season Starts April 7

Ricky Vaughn

When you’re sick of screenwriting, consider some sun exposure instead! Think about joining the WGAE Softball Team: It’s good exercise, it’s great networking—and we usually win, too. Our Opening Day is Monday, April 7, 2014.

Generally, Team WGAE plays our games at 5:30 or 7 p.m. on Monday evenings, at Central Park’s Heckscher Ballfields, right next to Columbus Circle. We even have a team uniform (well, an official WGAE softball T-shirt) and everything!

Now we need you—ESPECIALLY if you’re a woman (because we have fewer female players than male ones)—but all are welcome to join. You don’t need to be super-experienced, but you do need to have a great, supportive attitude, since not everyone gets to play every game.

Even if you haven’t picked up your mitt in a while, the drinking component should put you at ease: After each game, we retire to a nearby pub for beer, wings, socializing, and rewriting the script for those match-ups that didn’t go so well.

Join the team! Email Timothy Cooper at to join!