Inspiration. Ambition.
Passion. Process. Technique.

By: Geri Cole

Promotional poster for ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING

For the latest live taping of OnWriting, Amanda Peet and Jennifer Kim join host Geri Cole to discuss their work on the new Netflix (academi)comedy-drama series, THE CHAIR.

Amanda Peet is the co-creator, showrunner, writer, and executive producer of THE CHAIR. You may also know her from her extensive acting credits, including DIRTY JOHN, BROCKMIRE, and TOGETHERNESS.

Jennifer Kim is a writer on THE CHAIR, as well as a staff writer for the upcoming Mel Brooks variety series HISTORY OF THE WORLD, PART II, which was announced earlier this fall.

THE CHAIR is the story of Professor Ji-Yoon Kim—the newly appointed chair of the English department at the prestigious Pembroke University, and the first woman of color to hold the position. The first season of the comedy-drama series follows Kim’s efforts to meet the dizzying demands and high expectations of a failing English department all while trying to ensure the tenure of a young black colleague; negotiate her relationship with her crush, friend, and well-known colleague Bill Dobson; and parent her strong-willed adopted daughter.

The show was released in August 2021 and is available to stream on Netflix.

Seasons 7-10 of OnWriting are hosted by Geri Cole, a writer and performer based in New York City. She is currently a full-time staff and interactive writer for SESAME STREET, for which she has received a Writers Guild Award and two Daytime Emmys.

Listen here:

OnWriting is an official podcast of the Writers Guild of America, East. The series was created and produced by Jason Gordon. Associate Producer & Designer is Molly Beer. Mix, tech production, and original music by Stock Boy Creative.

If you like OnWriting, please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts, and be sure to rate us on iTunes.


Follow us on social media:
Twitter: @OnWritingWGAE | @WGAEast
Facebook: /WGAEast
Instagram: @WGAEast

Thanks for listening. Write on.


Geri Cole: Hi, I’m Geri Cole. And you’re listening to OnWriting, a podcast from the Writer’s Guild of America, East. In each episode, you’re going to hear from the people behind your favorite films and television series, talking about the writing process, how they got their project from the page to the screen and so much more.

Welcome ladies. First, I would like to say hello and welcome to the live taping of OnWriting a podcast of the Writer’s Guild of America, East. Today, I’m very excited to talk to Amanda Peet and Jennifer Kim about the new Netflix series, The Chair.

Amanda is the co-creator, showrunner, writer and executive producer of The Chair, now streaming on Netflix. You may also know Amanda from her extensive acting credits, including Dirty John, Brockmire, and Togetherness.

Jennifer Kim is a writer on The Chair and is also a staff writer from Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part Two, which is coming up. To our live audience, again, if you have any questions for our guests, please submit them through the Q & A featured at the bottom of the Zoom. Hi, Amanda and Kim! [crosstalk 00:01:02]

Amanda Peet: Thank you for having us.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah, thank you.

Geri Cole: Thank you for coming. First of all, I just want to say, congratulations. This show is fantastic. It really made me think and laugh and cry and there was times where I wanted to like punch someone little bit. So it was great. So let’s start with how this show came to be. Amanda, can you talk us through sort of like where the idea from The Chair came from and how it got to you?

Amanda Peet: Yeah. I worked with Jay Duplass on Togetherness and we had a really great rapport. And then while we were on Togetherness, Transparent became a huge hit and we were all making fun of him that he was such a brilliant actor, just like off the truck, like immediately, totally unfairly. And then, I really wanted to write something for him, so we kept like talking about this idea of him as a widower.

And then I wrote a whole like 55 pages of a movie. And then I started thinking about all these stories of professors who were transgressing on campus. And I was reading all these stories and I started to be really interested in the idea of a female supervisor whose colleague transgresses. And it just, at some point all came together. The idea of an English department came together, so I scrapped the other 55 pages.

Geri Cole: Or maybe later, you never know. Pick it back up. See, turn into something. So Jennifer, let’s talk about how you came to the series. When did you get involved?

Jennifer Kim: I don’t know at what point in the process, but it was really quick. I met up with Amanda for the interview for the job on like a Saturday and then-

Amanda Peet: After I read her script though.

Jennifer Kim: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. No-

Amanda Peet: Just she buried the lead.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah. Yeah. And then I think when we were talking, we both had … It was just like a really good talk and it felt like it was a very open kind of discussion about all these sort of interesting kind of situations that are really relevant to today’s social experience, especially at a college campus. And so it was fun. We just like met up and kind of just talked about a lot of things. Yeah, and then I kind of just ended up starting very quickly on the job and it was really fun.

Amanda Peet: She can’t really talk about the other really important part was that she had written a script, so I was getting submissions and … Wait, it was a spec script. Was it a spec script?

Jennifer Kim: Yeah. It was a script about Attila the Hun.

Amanda Peet: Yeah.

Geri Cole: Awesome.

Jennifer Kim: Very left field. So it was very cool that she read that and was like-

Amanda Peet: It was so brilliant and so funny. And basically I was like, “Oh, I should be doing this show, not The Chair.” But anyway, yeah.

Geri Cole: I mean, we could still also do that show. Right?

Jennifer Kim: Season two. Of The Chair is not about this at all. It’s about Attila the Hun.

Amanda Peet: Attila the Hun, yeah. Perfect. Tracks.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah. Actually, in watching the show, I was … I mean and I could be getting large swaths of television. I do frequently, but it’s like, I feel like there’s not that many comedies set in academia and it’s like a perfect location for comedy and drama. I feel like you get a lot of dramas in school settings, but not sort of dramadies, I suppose, which this would fall into.

So speaking of, did you have to do a lot of research in terms of … I maybe you said you had been reading lots of stories about professors making poor decisions. Was there any other research that you had to pull into the room and/or, or rather and then this is continuing, what was the writer’s room like? What did you walk in with and what did you guys sort of find and break in the room?

Amanda Peet: OMG, big questions. I did a lot of interviews before we started the room. And then when we had the room, how long was Jillian there? We had a professor in the room for a while.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah. A week.

Amanda Peet: Yeah. I kind of remember being there for most of it.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah. Is that wrong? I don’t know.

Amanda Peet: I don’t remember either. At some point she left and we kept going and then I had a few other consultants who would help me and help everyone in the room and be available for everyone as they were breaking the season. And everyone went off to write to make sure that we weren’t taking too much poetic license in a way that was going to be incredibly annoying to all the people who helped us.

Geri Cole: So then you had a professor in the room with you to sort of check against the reality of what you were creating of like does this feel real?

Amanda Peet: Yeah. And especially because we wanted Sandra to be in a supervisor role and we wanted some legal issues to come up. It was important that we talked to people who were actually in academia and could help us with the hierarchy and help us with the various ways that professors, tenured and otherwise, are disciplined on campus.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah. She also helped with like figuring out what specific discipline or subject each professor might be teaching like romanticism or like Victorian time. Yeah, she was super helpful.

Geri Cole: That’s awesome. So also I understand, Amanda, that you wrote the character of June with Sandra Oh in mind. Can we talk about how or why she was your muse?

Amanda Peet: Well, honestly I’ve said this before, but I really couldn’t think of anyone else who would read as someone who has a PhD in literature, but who could also do a prat fall. And she just became the muse in my mind. I had seen her in the nineties at the public in Stop Kiss with Jessica Hecht and had watched her over the year and admired her over the years. But I definitely felt like in my head that we had like a simpatico about comedy, like that we had the same sense of comedy.

Geri Cole: That’s awesome. I mean, obviously she does an amazing job balancing both the comedy and the drama. So let’s talk about the sort of main arc of the season, which is Jay Duplass’s character Bill getting in trouble for riffing on Hitler fascism and this video that goes viral and turns into a bigger discussion on campus. And yeah, let’s start with where that storyline came from.

Amanda Peet: Well, like I said, I was reading a lot of these stories about professors transgressing in the classroom and like you were saying, the idea of setting a comedy on campus seemed like a good idea just because of the intergenerational tension. And you have these like very idealistic students, and then the middle aged folks who are kind of straddling both eras, and then the older folks who really don’t feel seen anymore. And maybe because I’m Jewish, I felt like whatever it was that Bill was going to do, I wanted it to be … I think because I’m Jewish, I felt the most comfortable having him transgress in that arena.

Geri Cole: Because one of the things that I really love about the show is how you get to see both sides where you’re sort of like immediately it feels wildly unfair because you’re like, well it was completely taken off context. Can someone show the whole video? But then also it’s like ah, maybe it doesn’t matter because you look at the effect it’s had on the students. Yeah, can we talk a little bit about how sort of playing out both sides then throughout the season of getting to watch the effect it has on him and his career, but then also the effect that it has on this students in the campus?

Amanda Peet: Yeah, I think, I don’t know. I mean, Jennifer jump in here but I feel like cancel culture is interesting. I think sometimes there can be something can happen that’s misinterpreted or that’s taken out of context possibly, but one thing that’s happening with cancel culture and with people being able to erupt in defiance online is that virtually whatever through social media and such is just that I think people who used to be safely in positions of power are now able to be called out and that’s critical.

So it was important to us that the kids didn’t feel like an angry mob or like that nobody’s … I mean we hoped just like you said, I mean, Jennifer, we talked a lot in the room about trying to make it so that no one would be completely able to be dismissed. Nobody’s position was like … yeah.

Jennifer Kim: Right. Like especially with the students, I think we wanted to make sure that just because they’re young doesn’t mean that they’re not completely justified that their opinion or the way they saw the experience doesn’t matter. So I feel like yeah, we talked about that and also there’s like the great line in the show where Bill ultimately is kind of like rooting for his students. He’s kind of like, this is great that they’re doing this. That’s what they’re supposed to do on a college campus. I did that. I protested. So I think kind of finding that, yeah, balance of not painting one side as only the villain versus one side only as the hero.

Amanda Peet: And it was important also though that he was taken to task too. And that we showed his arrogance and sense of privilege as well for sort of resting on his liberal, progressive laurels and not being open to changing more.

Geri Cole: Yeah. That was one of the things that I thought was really fantastic to see was sort of, and again, you still can’t get mad at the character for it, but it was like it’s sort of been like I can just get out of this, right. And it’s like, no. No, you’re making it worse. You know? Like the more you think you can just get out of it.

Amanda Peet: Of the things I was thinking a lot about too, is like women in leadership and my sister’s Dean of clinical medicine at a hospital. And I was thinking a lot about how it’s easier for women to take in a lot of perspectives. And I think that for men in leadership, there’s much more binary thinking. And I loved this idea of putting her in a position where she actually had to see the … The amount of context was dizzying for her because she was so empathic and was able to see or is able to see the humanity in so many different types of people and what they’ve been through and where they’re coming from. And I think Sandra and I and the writers in the room really hope that The Chair would sort of show that as a positive thing and that having empathy is a leadership quality and that it’s actually, we need more women in power.

Geri Cole: So I do actually also, speaking of women in power, want to talk about the intergenerational work relationships between Ji-Yoon and Joan’s characters or careers and sort of like … Yeah, I guess, can we talk a little bit about those two characters and sort of how you get to see her sort of trying to be respectful and genuinely admiring, I believe, Joan’s character and her career and all those things, but it also sort of ultimately not … I mean well, spoiler alerts, if anyone hasn’t … Hopefully you’ve already all watched it. In the end sort of Joan getting the position, which was a very interesting twist. Could we talk a little bit about those two characters relationships and their arc?

Amanda Peet: I don’t even know if I told Jennifer this, but at some point David was like, “That’s a terrible idea.” Did I tell you that?

Jennifer Kim: That Joan gets it in the end? No.

Amanda Peet: He was like, “That’s not going to work. That’s just not going to work.” And I was like-

Jennifer Kim: Wait, why?

Amanda Peet: I don’t remember at what point we were at in the writing and how much he had read and how much he hadn’t read, but he was just like, “Sandra, Sandra, Sandra, Sandra.” Which is right. But I was like, just let me try. Let us try to see if we can do this anyway.

Yeah. I mean that storyline came out of a lot of talks we had, including some about myself and my daughter who’s a teenager who shows me these TikTok videos where the girls are … And I’m saying girls. They’re tweens and teens who are scantly clad. And she was telling me that my perspective is very un-feminist. Why can’t they wear a bikini? Would I say that if it were my son? If it were my son or his friends and they were wearing whatever-

Jennifer Kim: Bikinis.

Amanda Peet: They were scantily clad, would I have the same level of like protectiveness? And you’re not you’re trafficking in something that is going to make people … She’s just more like blame the culture, don’t blame the girl. And so I found myself like becoming tongue tied at home with my 14 year old daughter and not being able to … I wanted to go back to debate class.

I found myself just sort of saying, “Well, do you know what I mean? Don’t be ridiculous.” And she’d be like, “No, you are.”

Jennifer Kim: Explain.

Amanda Peet: Yeah. Yeah. So some of that came out of my … And it’s also this sort of sad, bittersweet feeling, which Jennifer Kim doesn’t know anything about where there’s a sense of like passing the torch in terms of your progressiveness. And it’s bittersweet. It was a rude awakening for me to be like, “Oh my God, I’m not progressive enough. I’m becoming like a suburban, complacent freak.” My daughter is becoming more of a badass and it was a rude awakening. Yeah.

Geri Cole: I also have that fear. If it makes you feel any better, I’m like, “Oh God, I’m not cool.” My husband was like, “You’re not cool anymore.” I’m like, “But I was cool.” He’s like, “You’re not anymore.”

Amanda Peet: Yeah.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah because I feel like that’s Joan’s entire storyline is that like she’s being ignored this entire time. She’s being sent to the basement and nobody knows where she is and she has to do this. She basically feels like, yeah, she’s being ignored by the department and that they’re all kind of moving forward without her, in a weird way.

Amanda Peet: Yeah.

Geri Cole: Which honestly is just story of being a woman. Also story of being a woman, the other thing that I really appreciated, it was like, wow. One of the things that made me want to punch was that essentially … And obviously I know that there were actions that she took that were arguably not the best actions, but it feels like Ji-Yoon, her career and her position as the chair is negatively impacted by this man’s actions. And it’s like, of course that he did something and it takes the woman down. Which it’s obviously more are complicated but everything is a tricky thing. Let’s talk a little bit about that dynamic of her. Was that always the arc or was that a thing that you guys found in the room?

Amanda Peet: I mean, we struggled with ending a lot. And Jennifer wrote one of the hardest episodes because it was when she split up from Bill, episode five. And I don’t know, maybe we were like allergic to a happy ending and we felt like something had to … I guess we felt like even though we celebrate Ji-Yoon and we celebrate that she was a great leader and she was so full of decency towards everyone, towards the old guard, towards the students, towards this grieving man, I guess we felt like she had to be taken to task though. And the system is still the system. And we also wanted to show that and not show, I guess, a Hollywood ending. Jennifer, I don’t know you.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah. I mean, I think I agree with it. I feel like, I feel like while we were breaking all the stories, like I even was getting frustrated with Ji-Yoon too. Like do something. But I liked that aspect of it. Like I liked that we were kind of getting frustrated with her character and despite her good intentions, she is kind of exacerbating her problems for herself as well.

And in terms of her relationship with Bill, we also talked a lot about the romantic comedy aspect of it, that we wanted it to still feel like there was a lot of love between them and will they, won’t they. We wanted to keep that kind of light, fun part of the show. We talked a lot about broadcast news and the love triangle. So yeah, I think it was just kind of figuring out what is satisfying, but also realistic.

Geri Cole: And I don’t know if this was the intention, but ultimately I felt like a really powerful things about the show that it felt like it sort of was commenting about how difficult it actually is to change institutions from within, with all of the best of intentions and the best people like that it’s like, whoa.

Amanda Peet: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s true. And I think that’s part of why campus is so fascinating is because you can be like a young, middle-aged person and be seen as an incrementalist and an apologist. And I really wanted to put Ji-Yoon through that. And we really wanted her to have to defend herself against that accusation. So yeah, that was something we were focused on.

Geri Cole: Yeah. Which is fantastic because I feel like it’s not something that you see a lot, this nuanced, yeah and having to see all sides.

Amanda Peet: Yeah. And we were really excited. I think all of us were really excited to have two women of color take each other to task and be staunch in their positions, but also still be again, like both have fully formed arguments and salient arguments. Yeah.

Geri Cole: It feels like a conversation that I have with my friends often that sort of like, are we fighting for a seat at the table or are we building a new table? Are we fighting for a seat table? Are we building a new table? And both arguments are fair, both have valid points, but it’s sort of like which side of the line do you fall on-

Amanda Peet: Yeah. And I think for women of color in positions of power in institutions like that, like at Pembroke, it’s very complicated. There’s constantly that dissonance and we really wanted to explore that. And as soon as I knew that Sandra was doing it, we wanted to explore all of that and really try to show how difficult it was for her to climb the ranks.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah. And I feel like to that thing of like building a new table versus a seat at the table, that also is kind of like the relationship between Yaz and Ji-Yoon as well. Like Ji-Yoon doesn’t understand Yaz’s experience, but Yaz also doesn’t understand that like Ji-Yoon’s job is managerial and that’s different than just teaching. So I feel like we try to arm both sides with legitimate arguments of why either of them could be right or wrong.

Geri Cole: Absolutely.

Amanda Peet: And also he could still have an incredibly generous and sisterly energy towards each other, even though Yaz isn’t sure that Ji-Yoon is going to be strong enough to turn the department over and turn the culture over. It was important to me that they both showed a lot of decency towards each other at the same time that they took the gloves off.

Geri Cole: Yeah. Another thing that I really loved about this show was its very modern depiction of motherhood. Can we talk a little bit about that, about how you guys approached that?

Jennifer Kim: I’ll take this question.

Amanda Peet: Well, yeah. I hope I’m not speaking out of turn when I say this, I think Sandra responded almost the most to that part of the pilot when she said yes to the show and was very open about that with me when she read the pilot. So like there was an even crazier scene originally in the beginning of the pilot where she’s with her daughter and behaving not exactly in a maternal fashion. And she was very upset when it was cut and she wanted to explore a mother-daughter relationship that isn’t entirely aspirational. And I think she was important to both of us that she didn’t come off like a saint or like a woman who can do it all. And we just wanted it to be funny too.

Geri Cole: Which it is. Yeah. I feel like you often also don’t see … And again, I could be forgetting large swaths of television where I was like this is not the case, but it’s not.

Amanda Peet: No, we’re the only ones who did it, I’m sure.

Geri Cole: But like adoption and trying to make sure that … Especially transracial adoption, like it’s such a rich show. There’s so many very compelling relationships and dynamics.

Amanda Peet: I think Sandra and I also both have a lot of friends who aren’t mothers and who chose not to be mothers. And I think we are still in this culture so have such binary thinking about that as well. Like if you reach age 45 and you haven’t had a child, oh, what happened? Are you okay? Are you a complete person? Are you really a woman?

It’s so deeply offensive. I think it triggers me. Even though I have three kids, I have so many friends who don’t and who chose not to. And the idea that they’re broken somehow because they chose not to be mothers is so offensive and absurd. And some of the adoptive mothers I talked to, especially who had an interracial adoption, talked a lot about that dissonance and coming to terms with the fact that their child doesn’t have the same color of skin that they have. And these were all things that we wanted to dig into as much as possible in the short time we had.

Geri Cole: I mean and honestly that was one of the moments that I cried when she comes home and Juju has created the alter for her. It was like, “Oh, my god.” It’s such a beautiful. I mean as complicated as a relationship is, it’s such a beautiful moment.

Amanda Peet: Jennifer, I hope it’s okay to say this too, but my favorite episode is episode five, Jennifer’s episode. And one of the things we talked so much about is … I don’t know if I’m going off where you wanted to go, but we were so obsessed with making a romantic comedy and trying to follow the shape of romantic comedy.

So when Jennifer got episode five, we knew they were going to be separated. And I had this whole plan that Bill was going to go to New York and he was going to try to go on date with this other professor. And then he was going to take a Viagra and there was going to be this whole mishap with his boner. And Jennifer was like, “Yeah, no. No.”

Jennifer Kim: I didn’t reject it. I just offered another idea.

Geri Cole: This is when he gets drunk at the-

Amanda Peet: Yeah. So suddenly, Jennifer was like, “I’ve always wanted to write about a Dol ceremony.” And so she pitched that to the room and it was like ahh. It was like one of those-

Jennifer Kim: Yeah. It felt like so natural because I think the other element of the reason why they’re being split up is that while they’re split up, they’re kind of having their own revelations about the other person. So I just thought it kind of felt really fitting and almost like a parallel situation where Bill’s life is going this direction, a downward trajectory. Of course, he’s kind of experiencing the worst of that at a ceremony that is maybe the most optimistic in terms of like how to start life and being able to choose anything that you want to do and having the whole world and everything ahead of you.

Yeah. I just thought that that would be a nice sort of parallel, like juxtaposition where there could also be a lot of comedy of just seeing him kind of not be part of this ceremony and also feeling so personally upset when the child is nudged by the parents because of his own stuff. Yeah, I feel like it kind of just seemed like a natural, fun idea.

Geri Cole: Yeah. It was hilarious. I also love how the aunties are like, “Maybe he’s still no … Wait. Is he a drug addict?”

Jennifer Kim: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Geri Cole: Figure out, it’s was like, do we want her?

Jennifer Kim: You never know. Yeah.

Geri Cole: So Jennifer, actually, the other episode that I wanted to ask you about was the episode with David Duchovny, I believe you wrote

Amanda Peet: That’s the same one. That’s the same one.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah. Yeah.

Geri Cole: Oh, it’s all the same one?

Jennifer Kim: Yeah, yeah.

Geri Cole: What was it like writing for a real person who was playing a character version of himself, but also a real? what was that like?

Jennifer Kim: I mean, I think Amanda can help me out here just because-

Amanda Peet: Yeah.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah.

Amanda Peet: So originally, Jennifer had wrote that they go on this literary trip and the reason she’s passing me the ball right now is because we couldn’t afford to shoot any of the things that we wrote and any of the things that Jennifer wrote in the end. So we had them going on this like literary pilgrimage and it all ended up-

Jennifer Kim: Over budget.

Amanda Peet: Yeah. I mean, one thing that happened was COVID and so everything changed after that. They green lit us, but they were like, “You’re green lit, but you’re green lit on this budget instead of that other budget.” But yeah, we were just very lucky to get to Duchovny. And so all talked about how there are only like three actors who’ve actually written and published and who don’t seem like total dufuses but are still defuses and sorry, David.

Jennifer Kim: Yeah, he’s fine.

Amanda Peet: Yeah, he’s fine. Yeah, he is. I mean, he’s so game.

Geri Cole: Yeah, it was hilarious. It was like, wait, he’s playing a joke of himself.

Amanda Peet: Yeah.

Geri Cole: In the best way. We’re coming on the half hour and I want to remind folks that if they have questions, to throw them into the Q and A.I see a you have popped up, but before we get to those, I wanted to ask you all a question that I like to ask everyone that comes on the podcast because it’s my favorite question and it is a question about success. And I feel like, Amanda, you’ve had an amazing career both in front of and behind the camera. Jennifer you’re, it feels like, at the beginning of your career and having an amazing career so far.

Jennifer Kim: Thanks.

Geri Cole: And I’m always curious about the idea of success, because I feel like in creative professions, specifically in this one, it can feel very elusive. Where you’re like, ‘Am I in it? Is this the success? Am I winning?” Do you feel successful in this moment of success? So I guess I’m curious as to how you both define success for yourselves.

Jennifer Kim: Oh.

Amanda Peet: Go Jennifer.

Jennifer Kim: I have only had a short amount of time to think about this, I guess, but I feel like success is just kind of making sure that the stuff that you’re creating or writing is what you want to create and write. I don’t know. I feel like there’s so much stuff that’s out of your control that attaching success and the meaning of it to any of those things seems very stressful. And I don’t know, it just sounds like not a fun time. So I feel like for me, it’s just been having a lot of fun in these writer rooms that I’ve been in. Yeah, just kind of making sure that my writing gets better and just feeling like personal kind of progress forward has been sort of how I’m defining success. Yeah.

Amanda Peet: Okay. So now that the wiser of the two of us has spoken, I sure didn’t know any of that in my 20s, Jennifer Kim, or I might have like spouted off about it, but I really didn’t know it at all.

Yeah. I don’t really know how to answer that question, exactly. I still struggle with it. That’s the truth. I still struggle with the idea of being anointed in a certain way and celebrated and recognized in a certain way from the outside and work hard to accomplish what Jennifer just talked about, which is like, is your work articulating something about who you are really? Because over the years as an actor, I took so many projects that I didn’t love just because I wanted to work. And there’s value in that too, but at a certain point, I think the thing that writing has given me is that I can’t pass the buck. Like it’s my story. Well, I mean, it’s our story, the writer’s room and the crew and everybody, but there’s no passing the buck. Like it’s on me if it fails and that’s very scary and also very liberating. But yeah, she’s right. Everything she said is absolutely.

Jennifer Kim: [crosstalk 00:29:31] having Fun, I think.

Amanda Peet: Oh, stop it. You just gave a beautiful answer. I can’t believe you, Jennifer Kim. Where have you been all my life? Yeah. And I was going to add that. Like I think that because I’m 50 … I’m almost 50. I’m not 50 yet. It was very important to me that we had fun in the room and that people felt comfortable and that people felt like their voices were being heard and that they were thriving and free to leap out with an idea.

And I feel that way about actors too, because I am and was an actor for so long. So I’m like, “Tell me. Tell me if something doesn’t work.” I don’t want to shut anybody down. The best ideal wins. That’s it. And it’s a communal effort.

I think that’s the other thing about writing in TV and filmmaking for me is that it’s like a family thing. So you need to create that vibe and you need to have all hands on deck. And in order to do that, you have to create an atmosphere that is relaxed and where people feel seen and where people feel like their opinion matters.

Geri Cole: I think this is a fantastic answer, both true collaboration where you’re like genuinely creating something that you are excited and proud of. And then also, honestly, I’ve asked this question to everyone and it’s actually really lovely to hear. It’s like it’s a thing I still struggle with. I’ve not heard that before. And it’s like, yeah.

Amanda Peet: Oh my god. I can’t believe … Okay. I’ll just tell this quick little story. My son’s best friend was over. And I had given him a book for Hanukah, the best friend. And they started reading it together and at a certain point, it became very clear that his best friend was much farther ahead than my son in reading. It became a little bit like that Kristen Wigg skit where one of them is trying to keep up with [crosstalk 00:31:24].

Jennifer Kim: Oh, Penelope. Yeah.

Amanda Peet: And all of a sudden out of nowhere, he looked up, my son, he went, “I don’t like this book.”

Jennifer Kim: Oh.

Amanda Peet: And then he was like, “I’m going to go climb this tree, mommy. Can you come watch me or something?” And I called my best friend and I was like, “Nothing changes. You turn 50 and the only thing that changes is that you know that you just can’t actually say that out loud, I don’t like this book, because it’s too obvious. That’s all.”

So yeah. It’s important to know that. I mean, I definitely still struggle. Like I want to awards. I want to win things. I want to be the number one on the list. I want to be first at the table, whichever table, the one we made or the one that we went over there destroy that one. As long as I’m at the head of it, it’s fine. Wow. I can’t believe I just said all that.

Geri Cole: Wow. That’s awesome. No, that’s a fantastic story. I don’t like this book, because it’s so true and so obvious. And I’m like, “How have I done that today?” I’m sure that I have been like, “Well, I don’t like this.” Like just-

Amanda Peet: Don’t like this book.

Geri Cole: … because you’re not feeling successful. Yeah. Okay. So now I do actually want to get to the Q and A and we have a question from Jeffrey Hershberg and he wants to know, how did you manage the writers room? Was it based in New York or remote? Or I imagine based in LA rather or remote.

Amanda Peet: We were in LA and my dear friend who’s also a brilliant writer, Richard Robbins, basically ran the room. I had never run a room before. So he sort of took the lead and then Jennifer and Andre and I, it was very … I don’t know, Jennifer. You answer, Jennifer. It was very-

Jennifer Kim: Okay, I will. Okay, here it goes. I mean, what you were talking about just a few seconds ago of like the collaborative nature, I think I really felt that because also this is like my first job. So I was like, “Oh, I don’t know what to do.” I was nervous obviously, but Amanda … And this is very true. Amanda did a really good job with creating an environment where I didn’t feel nervous or I didn’t have to feel nervous because I could say things and feel like my ideas were being considered on an equal level as anyone else’s. So it did feel very collaborative. And I also think you need that because that’s when you have crazy pitches or really fun pitches because people feel comfortable enough to say things. Yeah. That’s kind of how the room worked.

Amanda Peet: Have to be able to shit the bed. You have to be able to shit the bed at your table.

Jennifer Kim: It’s huge.

Amanda Peet: Wow. Mixing metaphors.

Geri Cole: Yeah.

Amanda Peet: Shit the bed at your table.

Geri Cole: That’s a saying.

Amanda Peet: And she’s exactly right. Like I think you’re not going to get the hidden gem if you’re not just firing on all cylinders all the time. And if you do that, you’re going to end up coming up with some pretty sucky pitches some of the time. You’re not going to bat a thousand.

Jennifer Kim: Absolutely. You have to feel comfortable and you have to, I mean honestly I would argue, like be having a good time. Especially if you’re trying to make a comedy and or a dromedy, but I would imagine even for a drama, even though I’ve ever been in a drama room, but you want to feel like you’re on the team. The team’s going to win. That everyone’s playing their best and it’s hard to do if you feel like you’re feeling intimidated or not being heard or seen which is amazing that we still have to say, but it is unique.

Amanda Peet: Yeah. It’s changing. It’s changing, I think.

Jennifer Kim: It’s changing, yeah.

Geri Cole: So another question I have is can you talk a little bit more about … Amanda, this is your first time being a show runner. How did that happen? How did you handle? How did you prepare?

Amanda Peet: Well, I think just having been an actress for so many years and been on sets for so many years and then have my husband ran Game of Thrones with his partner and his partner’s wife was in our room with us. I think it was Norman Jewison who’s like, “Just hire the right people.” That’s it. I mean, truly that’s it. Like you hire the right writer’s room, then hire the right DP. Hire the right crew. Hire the right actors and then just strap in. Strap in and then take all the credit later.

Jennifer Kim: Basically.

Geri Cole: That’s how it works. That’s how it works.

Amanda Peet: But yeah, I mean I had Bernie Caulfield who she was the producer on Game of Thrones and she was my producer along with Tyler and they were just so incredibly protective of the show, I mean. Not of me, but protective of the show. So like almost hiding money from me and then not telling me that we had it and then I’d be like, “But we didn’t get this one shot.” And they’d like, “Okay, we can pick it up next week.” I’d be like, “We can? We can?” And then eventually I learned like, oh yeah, every really good producer stows away of the money for all the shit that’s going to go wrong.

Geri Cole: Yeah.

Amanda Peet: I didn’t know that. Yeah. It was really a beautiful experience and really fun to be maybe a little bit less scared of actors than my husband and his partner were at the beginning of Game of Thrones. Like because you know actors are scary and it’s like, you’re like, do they need to be in this little fragile bubble? I’m not like that. Probably to a fault, I’m just like, “You need to cry on this scene.” I’m just kidding. I would never say that. I would never say that, but like I definitely am just like, “Just give me this.”

Geri Cole: That’s awesome. I can only imagine how much being an actor helps understanding. Rather, I think my goal is always to understand everyone’s job. I feel like that’s always the best way to work is to understand how everyone’s job works so that you can appreciate everyone’s job.

Amanda Peet: Yeah.

Geri Cole: And you can try and do your job the best so that they can do their job the best. And it helps if you understand what their job is.

Amanda Peet: Yes, yes. What you said.

Geri Cole: But I also that’s, I think, fantastic advice. It’s like just hire the right people and then let them go and trust that. So it says I have one more question. Maybe that was two questions ago, but I’m going ask one more question and that is, can we talk at about that season two? I know we haven’t necessarily been renewed yet. And so let’s put pressure on whoever we need to put pressure on to make that happen but do you guys already have ideas brewing of where you’d like to see these characters go next?

Amanda Peet: We’re just waiting. We’re just waiting. Yeah. That’s really the honest answer.

Geri Cole: Awesome. Well ladies, thank you so much again for joining us to have this talk.

Amanda Peet: Thank you so much, Geri.

Geri Cole: Again, this show is fantastic. Yeah, I thank you. Thank you so much.

Amanda Peet: Thank you so much, Geri. Bye, Jennifer.

Jennifer Kim: Bye.

Geri Cole: That’s it for this episode. OnWriting is a production of the Writer’ Guild of America, East and is hosted by me, Geri Cole. This series was created and is produced by Jason Gordon. Tech production and original music by Taylor Bradshaw Stockboy Creative. Our associate producer and designer is Molly Beer.

You can learn more about the Writer’s Guild of America, East online at And you can follow the Guild on all social media platforms at WGA East. If you liked this podcast, please subscribe and write us. Thank you for listening and write on.

Back to top