By Rosemary Counter - Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 0 Comments
The star and creator of the hit HBO show on set in New York
It’s after midnight in New York, in an alley in Chelsea, where homeless men sleep on window ledges and garbage trucks collect trash by moonlight. In a brick office building, up a rickety elevator to the eighth floor, a hundred hipsters, every one styled with ironic hats and oversized scarves and stilettos, laugh and mingle in low lighting. Beer bottles and half-eaten pizzas are strewn on every table, though no one eats or drinks the props.
“Rolling, rolling!” calls a cameraman, and in struts Marnie, played by the impossibly beautiful Allison Williams, in a peacock-blue dress. Hunched behind the camera, in sensible heels and a too-short lace dress that reveals the Spanx beneath it, is 26-year-old Lena Dunham, creator, writer, producer and sometimes-director of the HBO comedy, Girls. Once she’s happy with the party scene, Dunham calls “cut,” and releases the extras for lunch—at 1 a.m. Then she comes over to apologize.
“We’re shooting a boring establishment shot, but we’ll try to keep it spicy for you,” she jokes, bursting with friendly energy even though she doesn’t drink coffee. “I love nights, I thrive on them. My natural rhythm would be sleeping from 4 a.m. to noon.” Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 2:40 PM - 0 Comments
Once obscure, head writers of TV shows are becoming stars in their own right
Who’s starring in this fall’s TV series? Who cares? The real stars are the “show runners”: head writers who, according to The Shield creator Shawn Ryan, “have final say over the hiring of writers, actors and directors.”
Two new shows with unknown actors, Undercovers and Mike & Molly, have tried to build ratings by publicizing their high-profile writers, J.J. Abrams of Lost and Chuck Lorre of Two and a Half Men. Today, the creator of a show has to be prepared to be its public face: Dan Harmon, creator of the comedy Community (whose second season recently started on Citytv), says he’s not getting stopped in supermarkets yet, but “the group of people who know who I am has gotten larger.”
This kind of fame for writers is unknown in Canada, where TV writers have much less control over shows (which has been suggested as one reason why our TV isn’t as good). But for many years, it was also unknown in the U.S. Shows would become huge hits without anyone but insiders knowing the creators’ names. “I grew up in the ’80s when you thought you were watching the Dukes of Hazzard make the decision to drive around in the car,” Harmon says. “You never knew or cared that anything was written.” The fact that Star Trek fans knew about the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, was seen as a sign of how geeky those fans were. But when Lost went off the air, Jimmy Kimmel Live did segments with the show’s co-creators, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and the jokes assumed that the audience knew who they were. We’re all geeks now.
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 10:49 AM - 0 Comments
Earl Pomerantz has a really fascinating post on the question of ageism in the hiring of TV writers (Via Will). He notes that despite the recent victory by older TV writers who won a settlement from a major agency, it’s just not a simple question of discrimination: when advertisers and networks are mostly interested in reaching younger viewers, and when the style of television has changed, there’s a legitimate argument to be made that younger writers can best deliver what the networks/advertisers want. Of course, as he also goes on to argue, the networks and advertisers are being short-sighted by bypassing the older viewers who still like their product for the young viewers who aren’t that into network television.
This seems like a mistake, since the only audience still loyal to the network television brand is that very same older audience. Someday, perhaps, the business people will wise up and program for who’s watching – the older audience – instead of who they wish were watching – the otherwise engaged younger audience – in which case, the older writers are back in business.
One thing that confirms his thesis is that some of the cable networks are more willing than the broadcast networks to hire older writers; when David Milch (NYPD Blue) approached 60, he moved to HBO and created Deadwood, while when TBS wanted to do an old-style family sitcom (The Bill Engvall Show) they hired Michael Leeson, co-creator of The Cosby Show, to produce it.
If you don’t mind another one of my comparisons of TV today to TV 30 years ago, the age question isn’t Continue…