Laura Brennan’s eclectic writing career includes television, film, theater, web series, fiction and news. Behind the scenes, she has helped production companies develop movies, TV pilots and limited series. She has taught pitching workshops to executives at Netflix and Film Victoria, as well as MFA programs and undergraduate classes at universities including Stephens College, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Boston University and National University.A graduate of Yale University, Brennan has won awards for journalism, television writing and fiction. Her children’s book, Nana Speaks Nanese, tackles the confusing changes brought on by dementia in a reassuring and straightforward way. She hopes it will help families facing a diagnosis of dementia open up a conversation with their young children. Her web series Faux Baby is also for parents, but it is definitely not for children—or even safe for work.
“You are not everything to everyone. And you shouldn’t try to be. You should figure out what you do best and double down on it. Learn the stuff that you’re not great at so that you are comfortable and confident but narrow down what it is you really bring to the table ” -Laura Brennan
Deborah Starr Seibel is a multiple award-winning journalist and screenwriter. For the past eight years, she has been an instructor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in the John Wells Division of Writing for Film & Television. In addition, she serves as a mentor for Stephens College’s MFA in Screenwriting program. In prime time television, Deborah recently sold two pilots to CBS and is credited with four years on staff. During those years, she wrote six episodes for the final season of NBC’s Sisters and spent three additional years on the staff of Promised Land, the spin-off to CBS’s Touched By An Angel. She has also written episodes for Mysterious Ways and 21 Jump Street.
As a television reporter, Deborah won a George Foster Peabody award for investigative journalism, two Emmy Awards and First Place from the Associated Press for one of her documentaries. As a print journalist, she has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Parade and USA Today. In addition, she is a long-time national correspondent for TV Guide.
In 2010, Deborah was awarded a USC Annenberg Fellowship to receive her Master’s Degree in Specialized Journalism/The Arts.
“If there isn’t a kernel of truth you shouldn’t be writing. You get to know the people in a writers’ room better than your family, because you have to bring yourself, your stories, your history, your family experience into that room or you have nothing to contribute because nobody on this planet has lived the life you’ve lived and if you don’t bring that into the writers’ room, what good are you? What we are as artists are people who are trying to allow other people to feel that they are not alone.”” Deborah Starr Seibel
Julie Hébert started her creative life as a theater director and playwright (Ruby’s Bucket of Blood). She’s written and directed for the Magic Theater, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, LaMaMa, The Women’s Project, Cornerstone and many more. Her plays were honored twice with the Pen Award for Drama. Moving into television, Julie has written and directed for some of the most respected shows in television including American Crime, The Good Wife, Boss, Numb3rs and The West Wing. Her films have been praised as “intriguingly complex” (Variety) and “pulsing with veracity” (LA Times), with “a raw power that is impossible to dismiss” (Roger Ebert). She blogs occasionally at JulieHébert.com.
“I honor the depth inside and the stories that really want to be told because often in television you can get away with topline chatter, but to really hit on something that has meaning for you, that will have meaning for someone hearing the story, it has to come from a deeper place.”-Julie Hébert
Today’s guest is Nicole Gregory, author of God’s Messenger: The Astounding Achievements of Mother Cabrini. Mother Cabrini was a Catholic nun who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and was the first naturalized citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1946.
That video is now available on YouTube and the Cal Poly Pomona CEIS Podcast Page. It’s a great way to capture the experience of some of my more expressive and interesting students in the middle of their educational journeys – and to demonstrate the idea of being able to articulate your values and ideas in public, a ‘soft skill’ we all can use for the rest of our lives. I often argue that these soft skills make the difference between acing a job interview (and later the career) and not because everyone who comes to an interview has a matching resume of accomplishment so it’s how they handle those soft skills that wins the race.
The goal of our program and the goal of the book in general is to remind people that there was a time in Hollywood when 50% of the writers and producers were women and that was in the silent and the early Hollywood era and then they were all sort of wiped away and what happened was now we think oh can women do that? women did it in droves just a hundred years ago .It was a lot of research for all the different contributors many of who came from Columbia Missouri and it was because a lot of these women don’t have books written about them. They had to look through newspaper archives.They had to look through the Library of Congress. They — you know we could check the internet but the Internet’s not your perfect source for anything. It took a lot of time about six months for everyone to get enough research to be able to write and then the book itself took two years to go through the editing production and then produced available today. I have been a fan of very famous women from the past and Anita Loos, Adela Rodgers St. John. I’ve read their books. I’d seen them on television when I was a child doing talk shows and I thought how fascinating their lives had been and yet I never saw them in the history books that I was given about Hollywood. They always talked about the men. They never talked about the women who done that work and I wanted to create a program and a course that would allow other women to learn how many women had come before them.
On Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 several of the contributors to When Women Wrote Hollywood gathered at the Skylark Bookshop in Columbia, Missouri for a signing and launch party that functioned like a mini-reunion of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Class of 2017.
Many thanks to all who came to hear them each speak with passion about the research subjects who became whole chapters in this book of essays on female screenwriters from the Silent Era into the 1940s.
Pictured: Gail Parent, Njeri Brown, Rosanne Welch, Natasha Leggero, Riki Lindhome, Christine Zander and Ken Lazebnik pose before the Women Comedy Writers Panel
I had a great time moderating another panel for the WGA Foundation and enjoyed meeting all these female comedy writers. We talked about the power of comedy to force us to face the issues of our day and the pure fun of finding your place in a writers room.
I took the opportunity to ask Gail Parent (of The Carol Burnett Show, and The Golden Girls) to sign my used copy of her novel Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York so now I have another book to add to my autographed shelf!
It was wonderful to feel the reverence in the room whenever she spoke – coming from the audience as well as the panel. That kind of reverence for those who came before us is usually reserved for men, which made experiencing it so much more powerful.