Get Adobe Flash player

Write On

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 wgaesoftball@gmail.com to join!

Interview: Joe Mefford on Final Draft 9, April 2 Training Session

final-draft-9-box-writers-store_mediumOn Wednesday, April 2, the Writers Guild of America, East  will hold a training session for the recently released Final Draft 9 with Joe Mefford, Final Draft’s Vice President of Ecommerce. At the training, Joe will be demonstrating the all-new Final Draft 9 for Mac and Windows along with the Final Draft Writer for iPad and the Final Draft Reader for iPhone.

Members can RSVP to the April 2 training session here.

The WGAE Write On Blog spoke with Final Draft’s Vice Presidnet of Ecommerce, Joe Mefford, about Final Draft Version 9 and what members can expect to learn at our upcoming training session.

Why would someone who already has, and is happy with, Final Draft want to upgrade to Final Draft Version 9? Can you tell us what’s been updated and what’s new in it?

There are three reasons why someone should upgrade to Final Draft 9.

First, we have a whole new suite of Navigator tools – ScriptNotes, Scene, and Character – that make it easy to outline and develop a script at anytime in the writing process.

Second, FD 9 has been upgraded to work natively with the latest versions of Windows and Mac OS.

Third, new production tools such as color coding pages and revision tools have been updated to make Final Draft easier to use on location.

Let’s say I’m new to screenwriting and don’t quite know all the lingo, would you recommend I use FDV9 and what would be the best way to learn how to put together a professional script?

A vast majority of our users are new to screenwriting and we always design Final Draft with the new screenwriter in mind. Having said that, a beginning screenwriter should seek out all the free and inexpensive resources to learn how to write and format a screenplay. These include the book The Screenwriter’s Bible, online classes, and many online blogs and resources.

What can people expect to walk away with learning if they attend the Final Draft Version 9 Training on April 2nd?

People should walk away with an understanding of how to really use the more advanced writing features in Final Draft 9 such as the Navigator tools and some of the newer outlining features.  We’ll also spend some time examining the iOs apps such as the Reader and the Writer.

Can you tell me a simple trick that can enhance users experiences on Final Draft that most people don’t seem to know about?

A simple trick that many people don’t use is the Split Panel option. We’ll examine this in the workshop.

Are there plans for Final Draft to incorporate cloud computing features, online collaboration, or the ability to sync with mobile device?

Yes. We are looking at ways to incorporate with Dropbox and other cloud solutions. We are also looking at allowing users to run Final Draft from the cloud. That is in the future.

If you could personally could write a scene for any fictional television or film character throughout history, who would it be?

I would like to write for the characters in the No Texting announcements and I would insist that anyone texting in a movie is immediately vaporized.

(WATCH) Jeff Baron on screenwriters writing books and plays

On March 11th, Writers Guild of America, East held a talk with Jeff Baron about screenwriters branching out into writing plays and books.

Jeff has had four original screenplays  optioned by major Hollywood studios and his TV credits include “The Tracey Ullman Show,” “Sisters, Almost Grown (David Chase),” “A Year in the Life” and multiple projects for Nickelodeon.

His play “Visiting Mr. Green” is one of the most produced plays in the past 15 years, with over 500 productions in 42 countries, and his plays “When I Was Five,” “Mothers Day” and “Mr. & Mrs. God” have international lives as well.

His first novel “I Represent Sean Rosen” was published by HarperCollins last March, and is now in its second printing. His follow-up novel “Sean Rosen Is Not for Sale” will be published in March 2014.

Using examples from his work, Jeff apoke about the differences among the forms in terms of the role of the writer, the ownership of the project, the craft, the collaborative process, the contract and ownership of one’s work, how to get your work seen, and how and how much writers are paid.

Here are two video highlights from the talk:

Jeff Baron Discusses Branching Out Into Theater

Jeff Baron Discusses Branching Out Into Books

A look at the new Low Budget Agreement

By Jeremy Pikser, Vice President, Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE)

Newsflash: it’s hard and getting harder for most writers to work in films.

I won’t bore you with the reasons. You know them all. If you’re like me you fall to sleep (or fail to fall asleep) many nights listing them in your head.

The last thing anyone needs or wants is Guild rules to make it even harder.  And as financing and technology have made lower and lower budgets both possible and necessary that has increasingly seemed to be the case.

The Minimum Basic Agreement, that thing that gives us our most basic protections regarding minimum payments, health and pension benefits, residuals, everything that makes a middle class life for professional screenwriters a possibility was designed to work in the context of the studio system.

Truly independent films and truly low budget films have never worked very well with the rules and requirements the Guild has managed to negotiate with the studios.

For many of us this has been a drag; a sad fact that has made making a living and writing what we want to write often at odds.

Several years ago the Guild pioneered a new “Low Budget Agreement” that made it much easier for producers to make lower budget films from scripts by guild writers, with initial compensation deferred and lower minimums. But it was only for sales of scripts written on spec.

Now. the new Low Budget Agreement makes it possible for independent, low budget films, to HIRE a writer to work, which, unlike the sales agreement, includes health and pension contributions. But more than that (and that’s a lot) it allows for much more freedom for writers.

Consider:

On more than a couple of occasions, I’ve been approached by producers with a book or an idea that really appeals to me, one that I would love to write. But it’s obviously going to be a small, independent production by the very nature of the material. And there’s no way the budget can sustain the 85k or so required for a guild screenplay. You can’t really write it on spec—it’s not an original idea, the producer has to have some stake it in. Not legally, under guild rules, anyway. And how many of us have been put in the position of being forced into this kind of agreement where you work for nothing on script you don’t even own. Sucks, right?

Now, under the new Low Budget Agreement, a low budget, work for hire deal becomes possible.

The Guild’s new Low Budget Agreement includes:

  • Lower budget breaks, including reduced minimums for projects under $200k.
  • Opportunities for writers to receive health and pension contributions for their work on low budget films (unavailable under the previous low budget agreement).
  • Option of work for hire or screenplay purchase contract.
  • Option of upfront or deferred payments.
  • Residuals and creative rights as established in the Guild’s Major Basic Agreement.

These new contract provisions are open to anyone working on a Guild covered, low budget project. Moreover, writers who live east of the Mississippi River and are not yet members of the WGAE can join the Guild on any project covered under the new Low Budget Agreement.

We at the WGAE don’t want to be in a different creative universe from the fantastic independent film community in NY and throughout the east. We have been and continue to find flexible, realistic ways to to work together making sure that filmmakers working at all levels of production have basic rights and protections.

Likewise, producers who want to work with WGA writers should not find the cost of doing so prohibitive for a small production. Writers, directors, producers of small budget, mini-budget, hell, even micro-budget films, the WGA wants to work with you to make Guild coverage work wherever possible.

For more information on using the Guild’s Low Budget Agreement please contact Ursula Lawrence at ulawrence@wgaeast.org or 212-767-7836.

Win Tickets to the 2014 Toronto Screenwriting Conference

TSCTo enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the 2014 Toronto Screenwriting Conference, tweet at @WGAEast with the number of years of protection writers get when they submit a script to WGAE Script Registration.

Don’t tweet? Don’t worry! Simply email your answer to membernews@wgaeast.org with the subject “Toronto Screenwriting Conference Contest” for a chance to win.

The deadline to enter is Monday March 17, 2014, at 4pm ET. A winner will be notified on March 18th.

The 2014 Toronto Screenwriting Conference (TSC) is a two-day weekend event taking place on April 5-6, 2014, which gathers together the best creative talent, authors and speakers in writing for film, television and media in Canada and the United States. The TSC offers screen-based industry professionals an advanced level of education and skills development unparalleled by any other screenwriting event on the continent. Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine) and David Webb Peoples (12 Monkeys, Unforgiven, Bladerunner) have already been announced as speakers for this years’ conference.

Visit the TSC website for more details: www.torontoscreenwritingconference.com

CONTEST: One randomly selected winner will each get TWO (2) tickets to attend the 2014 Toronto Screenwriting Conference. The winner must be a WGAE member. The winner and their guest are responsible for all additional expenses, including hotel and travel.

Video Highlights From WGAE’s Panel On Portraying Obamacare in TV & Film

Hollywood, Health & Society collaborated with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), in presenting “The Affordable Care Act: Comedy, Drama & Reality,” a panel on portraying Obamacare in TV and film, at the WGAE headquarters in New York.

Panel members were Julie Green Bataille, director of the Office of Communications, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS); Wendell Potter, former head of communications for the giant health insurance company CIGNA and author of Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans; and Trudy Lieberman, a veteran journalist who has written extensively about health and health-care coverage.

Marty Kaplan, director of The Norman Lear Center, and Michael Winship, president of the WGAE, served as co-moderators.

Hollywood, Health & Society is a program of the USC Annenberg Lear Center that connects TV writers/producers and filmmakers with health and climate change experts on questions dealing with storylines in scripts. HH&S’ resources and services are free.

Here are some video highlights from the event:

Julie Green Bataille, director of the Office of Communications for the CMS, discusses the importance of getting the right information to people about the Affordable Care Act.

Wendell Potter and Trudy Lieberman discuss the use of language in promoting and disparage the Affordable Care Act.

Wendell Potter discusses why he left CIGNA to become an outspoken critic of the health insurance industry.

Journalist Trudy Lieberman talks about widespread hunger among the elderly in America.

The Importance Social Media and Cloud Computing to Screenwriters

Justin SamuelsBy Justin Samuels

Hollywood four decades ago was a very different place.  How a screenwriter worked was also very different.  In those days scripts were typed up on typewriters.  It was a painstaking process, scripts went through their multiple drafts and then had to be typed up to checked for errors.  There was no backspace or delete in those days.

A simple flood or fire could destroy your spec scripts.  Making copies of scripts was comparatively expensive.  As was postage.  To make or expand on connections in the film industry, you had to be on the ground in Los Angeles itself.  Even to get a call, you had to be near a landline phone.  Or otherwise you’d miss the call.  But today’s there’s a whole new way of doing things.  Laptops and other computing devices, along with internet service make it possible to store screenplays digitally and safely.  One can e-mail a screenplay to others in the industry from anywhere in the world.  And various forms of social media make it extremely easy to stay in touch.

As for as writing screenplays, the typewriter became obsolete awhile ago.  As computers became standard, Final Draft became the standard way of writing screenplays on a pc.  It certainly saved screenwriters on paper costs and made revising and editing scripts much easier.  And one was able to e-mail files in either fdr or pdf format to others in the industry.  Purchasing final draft was expensive, and your copies of the script were stored on your pc.  Should your pc be damaged you were out of look.  And Final Draft was only available in for Windows and Mac machines.  Still, it was a big improvement.   But technology has far surpassed the Final Draft era.  Celtx, an open source program, was created to have Windows, Max, and Linux versions.  It was an open source program, and free.  Celtx eventually offered a cloud service program allowing one to write screenplays from any browser on any device, whether Android, Iphone, Ipad, Linux, ChromeOs, Windows, or whatever else might be out there.  It’s free, but to get full functionality one must pay $50 a year.  Still, anything typed in your browser is automatically saved in Celtx’s cloud, provided that your computer is online.  The downloadable version of Celtx can be used for offline service (as back up should your connection go temporarily down).  It saved screenwriters from having to worry about what happens to scripts should a computer get damaged.  And as Gmail, Yahoo!, and Outlook all have many gigabytes of storage, one can use one’s web based e-mail as additional storage/back up.

In terms of getting read and staying in touch, the internet offers many options.  Screenwriter Kraig Wenmen broke into the industry by submitting to Inktip.  E-mail queries certainly save writers on postage.  While going to industry events in Los Angeles and New York are still extremely important, today one doesn’t have to hold on to cards or just lock contacts away into a rolodex that is rarely used.

New contacts in the film industry can be friended on Facebook or added on twitter.  Frequently using social media is essential to writers and other artists.  Via social media one can notify others en masse of new projects that you’re undertaking or looking for.  Also, if you regularly chat with friends in the industry on social media, you make it much more likely that they’ll want to work with you and vice versa.

And as many of us have residences and lives outside of LA and NYC, social media enables us to keep in touch with what’s on the ground in the business while we’re doing things outside of Los Angeles or New York.  Also, internet records are permanent.  A quick google on an artist will show work that the artist is done.  This creates a free resume of sort for the artists.  Prolific writers can use this to build up a name for themselves as writers.   It’s also a good way to let a writer’s fans keep in touch with what the writer is doing in between film projects or book projects.  The fact the internet allows a screenwriter to create and manage their own buzz is a huge plus.

The more of a presence one has online, the greater interest is generated in one’s work from producers, agents, and editors (depending on what type of writing the writer does).

Overall, new forms of technology have made it much easier to find ways around traditional barriers in the industry.  As technology continues to evolve, the industry and a screenwriters job will change with it.

Recap: 2014 Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony

The 2014 Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony was held on Saturday, February 1st, at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.

Renowned television star and Emmy Award nominee Colin Quinn hosted the ceremony, which was executive produced by John Marshall. Presenters who appeared at the WGAE’s New York awards ceremony included Fred Armisen (Portlandia), Robert Carlock (30 Rock), Raúl Esparza (Law & Order: SVU), Nelson George (CB4), Terry George (Hotel Rwanda), Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is The New Black), Steve O’Donnell (Late Show with David Letterman), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), Matthew Rhys (The Americans), Keri Russell (The Americans), Danny Strong (Lee Daniels’ The Butler) and Beau Willimon (House of Cards). Barbara Rosenblat (Orange is the New Black) served as the evening’s announcer.

The Writers Guild of America, East presented several special honors during its ceremony: James Schamus was presented with the Evelyn F. Burkey Award for bringing honor and dignity to writers. His award was presented to him by Dee Rees, the screenwriter and director of Pariah. Schamus co-founded Focus Films, produced the Oscar®-nominated Brokeback Mountain, and wrote award-winning screenplays including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Ice Storm.

Wendell Pierce, who starred as Detective Bunk Moreland in The Wire and trombonist Antoine Batiste in Treme, presented The Hunter Award for career achievement to David Simon. A MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow, Simon created the acclaimed television series Treme and The Wire. He also wrote for Homicide: Life on the Streets, which was based on one of his books, and the miniseries Generation Kill and The Corner.

Writers Guild council member Philip V. Pilato was presented with The Jablow Award for his service to the guild by last year’s recipient, Bob Schneider, Secretary-Treasurer of Writers Guild of America, East.

The John Merriman Memorial Award was presented to Rachel Baye of American University by Michael Winship, President of Writers Guild of America, East. The Writers Guild Initiative’s 6th annual Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in Screenwriting was presented to Hennah Sekandary of New York University by Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of Writers Guild of America, East.

Attendees at the WGAE’s awards ceremony included Tina Fey (30 Rock), Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight), Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street), Richard Linklater (Before Midnight), Michael Barker (Co-founder, Sony Picture Classics), Emily Mortimer (Newsroom), Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle), Jeremy Scahill and David Riker (Dirty Wars), A.M. Homes (The L Word). Mike Schur (Parks & Recreation), Lizz Winstead (The Daily Show), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Gina Gionfriddo (House of Cards) and Joe Weisberg (The Americans), among many other illustrious guests.

Here are the winners of the 2014 Writers Guild Awards:

SCREEN WINNERS

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Her, Written by Spike Jonze; Warner Bros.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Captain Phillips, Screenplay by Billy Ray; Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty; Columbia Pictures

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

Stories We Tell, Written by Sarah Polley; Roadside Attractions 

TELEVISION AND NEW MEDIA WINNERS

DRAMA SERIES

Breaking Bad, Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett; AMC

COMEDY SERIES 

Veep, Written by Simon Blackwell, Roger Drew, Sean Gray, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Georgia Pritchett, David Quantick, Tony Roche, Will Smith; HBO

NEW SERIES

House of Cards, Written by Kate Barnow, Rick Cleveland, Sam Forman, Gina Gionfriddo, Keith Huff, Sarah Treem, Beau Willimon; Netflix 

EPISODIC DRAMA

“Confessions” (Breaking Bad), Written by Gennifer Hutchison; AMC

EPISODIC COMEDY

“Hogcock!” (30 Rock), Written by Jack Burditt & Robert Carlock; NBC

LONG FORM – ADAPTED

Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, Written by Shawn Slovo, Based on the book by Howard Bingham and Max Wallace; HBO

SHORT FORM NEW MEDIA – ORIGINAL

“Episode 4: The Collected Sylvia” (Sylvia Plath: Girl Detective), Written by Mike Simses; sylviaplathgirldetective.com

ANIMATION

“A Test Before Trying” (The Simpsons), Written by Joel H. Cohen; Fox

COMEDY / VARIETY (INCLUDING TALK) – SERIES

The Colbert Report, Writers: Stephen Colbert, Tom Purcell, Michael Brumm, Nate Charny, Rich Dahm, Paul Dinello, Eric Drysdale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Gabe Gronli, Dan Guterman,  Barry Julien, Jay Katsir, Frank Lesser, Opus Moreschi, Bobby Mort, Meredith Scardino, Max Werner; Comedy Central

COMEDY / VARIETY – MUSIC, AWARDS, TRIBUTES – SPECIALS

Blake Shelton’s Not So Family Christmas, Head Writers: Jay Martel, Ian Roberts           Writers: Alex Rubens,Charlie Sanders; NBC

QUIZ AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION

Jeopardy!, Written by John Duarte, Harry Friedman, Mark Gaberman, Debbie Griffin, Michele Loud, Robert McClenaghan, Jim Rhine, Steve D. Tamerius, Billy Wisse; ABC

DAYTIME DRAMA

Days of Our Lives, Written by Lorraine Broderick, David Cherrill, Carolyn Culliton,    Richard Culliton, Rick Draughon, Christopher Dunn, Janet Iacobuzio, David A. Levinson,  Ryan Quan, Dave Ryan, Melissa Salmons, Christopher J. Whitesell; NBC

CHILDREN’S – EPISODIC & SPECIALS

“influANTces” (A.N.T. Farm), Written by Vincent Brown; Disney Channel

DOCUMENTARY – CURRENT EVENTS

“Egypt in Crisis” (Frontline), Written by Marcela Gaviria & Martin Smith; PBS

DOCUMENTARY – OTHER THAN CURRENT EVENTS

“The Choice 2012” (Frontline), Written by Michael KirkPBS 

TIED WITH:

“Silicon Valley” (American Experience), Telescript by Randall MacLowry and Michelle Ferrari; Story by Randall MacLowry; PBS

NEWS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT

“Tragedy at Newtown” Special Edition (ABC World News with Diane Sawyer), Written byLisa Ferri and Matt Negrin; ABC

NEWS – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY

“Lethal Medicine” (60 Minutes), Written by Michael Rey, Oriana Zill de Granados, Michael Radutzky; CBS

RADIO WINNERS

DOCUMENTARY

“2012 Year in Review,” Written by Gail Lee; CBS Radio News

NEWS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT

“Afternoon Drive,” Written by Bill Spadaro; CBS Radio/1010 WINS

NEWS – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY 

“Remembering C. Everett Koop,” Written by Scott Saloway; CBS Radio News

PROMOTIONAL WRITING AND GRAPHIC ANIMATION WINNERS

ON-AIR PROMOTION (TELEVISION, NEW MEDIA OR RADIO)

The Crazy Ones, “Building a Better Comedy,” Written by Erial Tompkins; CBS

TELEVISION GRAPHIC ART AND ANIMATION

CBS News Animations: “Brain Injury,” “Pills,” “Bionic Leg,” “Midland Parade,” “Concordia Salvage;” Animation byDavid Rosen; CBS News

VIDEOGAME WINNER

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN VIDEOGAME WRITING

The Last of Us, Written by Neil Druckmann; Sony Computer Entertainment

Interview: Beau Willimon, ‘House of Cards’

beau_headshot_(2) copyThe debut season of House of Cards (Netflix) was political drama at its best. Now, viewers are waiting to see what House of Cards’ writing staff concocts for Francis and Claire Underwood in the show’s highly anticipated second season, which goes live on February 14th. (Watch the season 2 trailer here).

House of Cards is nominated for “Drama Series,” “New Series,” and “Episodic Drama” at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards. Tickets for the February 1st Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony are available here.

The WGAE Write On Blog interviewed House of Cards creator and writer Beau Willimon, who will also be a presenter at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony. Here’s what he had to say:

Congratulations on House of Cards being nominated for multiple Writers Guild Awards. One of the awards you’re up for is “Episodic Drama” for the show’s first episode. Do you mind telling me a bit about your writing process?

The most important part is hiring a bunch of wildly talented writers!  I have a great staff – brilliant minds and tireless workers.  We spend 6 weeks breaking the season grid – all of the major story-lines and how they will progress over the course of 13 episodes.  Then we shift to breaking and writing individual episodes.  We’ll spend about 2 weeks breaking an episode, culminating in an outline.  If I’m not writing the episode myself, I’ll assign it to one of my writers.  They’ll have a couple weeks to write a first draft, then I’ll give notes.  They get an additional week for rewrites, then I take over and give every script my pass.  We repeat this process in a rolling fashion, beginning to break the next episode as soon as a writer heads off to write the previous one.

It takes us about 8 months total to write a season, so there’s some overlap with production.  Often we’ll make big changes to the grid along the way, or come up with a better idea for a script several weeks after it’s been written – so there is a constant ongoing revision process.  And that continues right up until the table read and even rehearsals.

I’m a strong believer in getting the actors’ and director’s input.  Listening to their thoughts and answering their questions usually makes a script better.  And I want them to feel as much ownership over the story as we do.  At its heart, making television is a deeply collaborative process – from the writer’s room to set and eventually the editing bay.  Ultimately I have to make the decisions, but the more I can involve everyone, the better chance we have of achieving sophistication and subtlety.

In addition to being a nominee, you’ll also be a presenter at the New York Ceremony. What do you think makes a good awards show presenter?

Excellent posture, clear enunciation and sparkling eyes.  The first two I was supposed to learn in elementary school, but I was more interested in beating Super Mario Bros. For the third I’m hoping there’s VFX in post.

What propelled you to make the move from working in politics to writing about politics?

I was always a writer – before, during and after I worked in politics.  It wasn’t as though I moved from one field to another. Political campaigns were never really a career for me. I worked for candidates I believed in, because I honestly wanted to see them get elected.  But it wasn’t my vocation.  It was sporadic – intense periods where I’d disappear from my everyday life for a few months and work around the clock until Election Day.  I was drawn to the pace and energy, the adrenalin, and the thought that – in my own small way – I could make a difference.

A lot of people think I’m cynical about politics because of Ides of March and House of Cards – but the opposite is true.  I’m very optimistic about what government can accomplish when it’s populated by the right people and working well.  I just temper that optimism with a good dose of realism – the fact that power can often corrupt and leadership often requires people to have a flexible moral spectrum in order to be effective.

What do you think the best piece of dialogue Francis Underwood has spoken on the show?

I’ve always been fond of “The nature of promises is that they remain immune to changing circumstances.”  One of the more amusing lines is “I despise children.  There – I said it.”  And another one of my favorites is one that Francis didn’t come up with, but which he quotes, stealing from Oscar Wilde: “A wise man once said: ‘Everything in the world is about sex, except sex; sex is about power.”

Many politicians make cameos in movies and television shows. What show do you think Francis would make a cameo on?

I’d love to see him make a cameo on VEEP.  VEEP is such a well-written, well-acted, viciously funny and satirical sharp show.  And it would be a blast to see Frank go head to head with V.P. Meyer.

Whose writing – or what films/shows – grabbed your attention in 2013?

I loved The Top of the Lake.  The commune story-line especially grabbed me.  It’s so original.  Of course Vince Gilligan and Breaking Bad never ceases to amaze.  What a glorious final season.  American Hustle was pure brilliance.  But what blew me away more than anything in 2013 was Vinterberg’s The Hunt.  The writing, acting and direction were so compact and gut-wrenching – not a single frame wasted.  It’s as close to a perfect movie as I’ve seen since Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others.

If you could write a scene for any fictional film or television character throughout history, who would it be?

I think it would have to be Falstaff.  500 years later we’re all still grasping to touch the wonderfully impossible high bars Shakespeare set in both comedy and drama.  And Falstaff is his greatest creation.  He a mixture of humor and heartbreak, largeness and smallness, the prosaic and poetic – everything that The Bard did so well.  Falstaff is an entire universe – the best and worst of humanity with all the complexity in between.

In terms of more modern characters, I’d have to say Al Swearengen from Milch’s Deadwood, Bubbles from Simon’s The Wire, and GJ from Campion & Lee’s Top of the Lake, because she’s such a compelling, delicious freaky enigma.

Interview: Gary Lennon, ‘Orange Is The New Black’

gary lennonA smart, dark comedy set in a women’s prison that features a magnificent ensemble cast? Count us among the millions of people who binge watched Orange is The New Black (Netflix) and absolutely loved it.

Orange is nominated for “Comedy Series,” “New Series,” and “Episodic Comedy” at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards. Tickets for the February 1st Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony are available here.

The WGAE Write On Blog interviewed Gary Lennon, a supervising producer and writer for Orange. Here’s what he had to say:

Congratulations on Orange is The New Black being nominated for “Comedy Series” and “New Series” at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards. Can you talk a bit about the writing process for the show and how you personally like to work?

The writing process for the show was fun. We all sat around the writer’s room and told crazy stories, often personal ones and plenty of them wound up in the first season of the show. Jenji was wide open and receptive to bold and innovative stories. She assembled a group of writers who were outside the box, sort of from the island of broken toys and that led to plenty of strange personal storytelling and laughter and sometimes tears. Once a story area code was decided upon, then we all set around and broke the story together and then finally an episode was given to one writer to write, but ALL of the episodes were designed by the entire writing staff.

My favorite way of working on an episode is to talk about a theme and then riff on that theme and our characters and develop a story where our characters can live truthfully under imaginary circumstances. I know that I have had a good week in the writer’s room if I leave on Friday and know something new about one of my co-workers that I never knew before and it should be juicy.

What piece of dialogue/scene from the first season is your personal favorite?

My personal favorite scene in the first season of Orange is The New Black is the scene between Miss Claudette and Piper in Episode 4, where Piper defends herself for the first time to her new roommate, Miss Claudette.

It’s the ‘cut me some slack’ speech that Piper delivers to Claudette. I like that scene because it really shows Piper’s growth as a character, it moves the plot forward, reveals character and it was funny and emotional. I think it was one of the first turning points for Piper and earned her some well-deserved respect. I felt like it was her first big step in not being a tourist in prison anymore, but in fact, she was going native.

If you were to go out with any of the characters, who would it be and why? What do you imagine the topics of conversation would be?

If I were to go out to dinner with one of the characters from Orange, I’d want it to be Taystee.

Taystee would make me laugh and  would want to talk about sex, food and good times which are three of my favorite subjects and I feel like we would have some friends in common and then she would want to go dance all night long and maybe not sleep at all.

Without giving anything away, what can viewers expect from the upcoming second season?

I assume season 2 will be more laughs, more flashbacks and more surprises.

Whose writing – or what films/shows – grabbed your attention in 2013?

My favorite TV show and writers of 2013 are Vince Gilligan/Breaking Bad, Henry Bromell/Homeland, Glenn Mazara/Walking Dead  and Howard Korder and Terrance Winter/Boardwalk Empire…..ohhhh, and Julian Fellowes/Downton Abbey. I love me some Downton!

Fave 2013 Films – 12 Years A Slave/John Ridley, Her/Spike Jonze, Blue Jasmine/Woody Allen.

If you could write a scene for any fictional character throughout history, who would it be?

I’d want to write for Oliver Twist – I’d like to see the man he’d become. Or Terry Malloy from On The Waterfront.