Event: Between the Sheets: Writing About Sex on Television – Writers Guild Foundation – Friday, January 12, 2019

I’m so excited to announce the next panel I’ll be moderating at the WGA has been announced. Even more exciting — alum Sahar Jahani will be on the panel!  It will be my first chance to announce one of our students as a working writer. Join us as we discuss the delicate ways in which we can write about sex on television. — Rosanne


Between the Sheets: Writing About Sex on Television – Writers Guild Foundation – Friday, January 12, 2019

We’re teaming up with Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting to pull the covers back on a topic that still makes viewers blush: sex. On this special evening, our panel of TV writers and producers share how they approach writing about sex, from intimate scenes to revealing dialogue, and the nuances they consider when crafting stories about sex and sexuality.

Between the Sheets: Writing About Sex on Television - Writers Guild Foundation - Friday, January 12, 2019

Friday, January 10, 2020
7:30 PM  9:00 PM

Writers Guild of America West/Writers Guild Foundation
7000 W. 3rd St., 2nd floor
Los Angeles, CA 90048
United States

GET TICKETS

Event: Between the Sheets: Writing About Sex on Television - Writers Guild Foundation - Friday, January 12, 2019

Panelists:

  • Michelle Ashford – Masters of Sex, The Pacific
  • Cindy Chupack – I’m Dying Up Here, Divorce, Sex and the City 
  • Sahar Jahani – 13 Reasons Why, Ramy
  • Stay tuned for more panelist announcements!

Moderated by Dr. Rosanne Welch.

Doors open at 7:00pm. Event starts at 7:30pm.

All events advertised on our Events page are open to anyone who wants to buy a ticket—not just WGA members!

In the case the event is sold out, we will have a first come, first serve stand-by line at the event. The stand-by line does not guarantee entry into the event.

Proceeds benefit the Foundation’s library, archive and other outreach programs.

Got a question about events? E-mail us at events@wgfoundation.org.

28 D.C. Fontana from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (1 minute 9 seconds)

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The Sisterhood of Science Fiction: A Walk Through Some Writers and Characters You (Should) Know And Love

28 D.C. Fontana from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction - Dr. Rosanne Welch

 

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This one allowed me to riff on some of my favorite female science fiction writers across time, whether they be novelists or television writers. It also opened up a good conversation on what art we support and include in our lives – and what that art says to us and about us. — Rosanne

Transcript:

I like novels but I also like TV a lot. I’m a pretty big pop-culture person. So I wanted to look a little bit into the women who’ve written science fiction on television. We don’t hear a lot about them. We know this show. Everyone’s heard of it even if you’ve never seen it. Everyone credits it to Gene Roddenberry, who is the man who invented it. He’s quite a brilliant man. That’s wonderful but along the way he hired this lady DC Fontana who went by the name DC because she didn’t think they’d hire a girl named Dorothy to write a science fiction television show. So she got the job as DC Fontana and did it – she’s worked in every iteration of Star Trek including the games, including the animated series on Saturday. She’s been involved in Star Trek forever and was involved in the very beginning — Wrote several episodes in the first original series. Wrote a few early novels that were out. So she was deeply embedded in that show and embedded in creating powerful female characters and also on creating the alien — the Vulcan guy, Spock, giving him a background. She created much of the background of his culture because culture was important to her. So she’s pretty cool and of course they loved her so much they made — they put her in the animated show. They made an animated version of her.



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In Memoriam: D.C. Fontana and How William Shatner’s Chest Inspired one (or more) Female Television Writers to Succeed in the Boys Club of Hollywood

In fond memory of D.C Fontana, who died yesterday at the age of 80, I am reposting this homage I wrote for the Mindful(l) Media podcast in 2015. She will be greatly missed. – Rosanne


In Memoriam: D.C. Fontana, Star Trek & Women via Mindful(l) Media

How William Shatner’s Chest Inspired one (or more) Female Television Writers to Succeed in the Boys Club of Hollywood

As a child I didn’t come to Star Trek for the fantasy or for the fun futuristic optimism or even for the glory of the gadgetry of the tricorders and communicators. I came for William Shatner’s chest. Glimpsed quickly one day while changing channels, my pre-adolescent hormones screeched to a halt as I sat transfixed. That tight Star Fleet uniform shirt truly rippled across his chest, which seemed to strain to be released. We didn’t ‘flip’ in those pre-remote days. We sat in front of the set and manually spun the dial like the combination lock on our high school lockers, which brought us in to much closer contact with the (sometimes still black and white) pictures flashing upon our (compared to modern day frightfully small) screens. I don’t even remember which episode it was that first placed his pecs in front of me, but this obsession with Shatner’s chest focused me so much so that I never cared for the writers’ propensity for finding ways for his co-star to flaunt his own brand of sexuality. Forcing the unfeeling Mr. Spock to feel never moved me at all, so in second, third and fourth runs I never found “This Side of Paradise” much to my liking. In the epic mash up between Sexy Shatner and Sexy Spock, Shatner always won. But being a budding television writer even as a ten year old, I recognized in the idea the need to offer the actor a way out of the rigid character description enforced upon him by his creator.

Fontana 1970sViewed now from the perspective of a fifty-year old female television writer and scholar, no longer merely a fan, I find the episode fascinating for what it says about the history of women writers — and the female characters they create — in television. In those days of heady chest-worshipping I didn’t know that the D. C. in D. C. Fontana stood for Dorothy Catherine. When I later learned that information from reading The Making of Star Trek, I took her success as a beacon for my own journey, as did many other future female television writers I came to meet throughout my career. While countless books have been written about the influence of the program on science fiction and on television in general, what I came to learn was the influence Star Trek wielded on bringing women into the industry — and how their participation changes the way female characters are portrayed.

Because of Fontana, future writers of future Trek franchises invited other female writers to pitch ideas so that, to my great joy twenty years after I stumbled upon the original Trek, I found myself in the offices of Star Trek: The Next Generation pitching ideas for stories involving what was still largely a boys club of characters. Sure, they had accepted two women into their continuing cast — both in ‘soft’ occupations as ship’s counselor and medical doctor and still under the command of Captain Picard. But the franchise had proved a stepping stone for a variety of female writers I admired (including Jane Espenson and Melinda M. Snodgrass) and I was excited to be among them. I never sold a story to that iteration of the show, but I kept watching — and kept noticing — that written by women, female characters were (and sadly are still) often more developed (in ways other than their chest measurements).

In “Paradise” that is true of what actress Nichelle Nichols is given to do as our cast regular female, Lt. Nyota Uhura (whose first name I never knew until the writing of this essay) and what Jill Ireland is given to do as the guest character, Spock’s former girlfriend, Leila (who in the tradition of sex objects was never provided a last name). Normally confined to dialogue discussing ‘hailing frequencies’ and only seen taking orders from Captain Kirk, in “Paradise” Uhura commits mutiny against her captain. He has to state for the Captain’s log that, “Lt. Uhura has effectively sabotaged all communications.” While all the male starship members also commit mutiny, Uhura is given one-on-one screen time with the lead actor to do so. Likewise, while Leila seems at first to only be demonstrating that the most perfect, porcelain-faced blonde can even be sexy in overalls, she was also spouting Thoreau (as in Henry David) and his brand of 19th century Transcendentalist philosophy to Spock — and to the audience. For a show airing at the height of the hippie movement, Leila served as a mouthpiece for their dream of peaceful co-existence, one not yet shared by other generations. In several online interviews Fontana has chosen Leila as one of her favorite characters, so we know much of what Leila says comes from Fontana’s own philosophies.

Of course, in the end television was then (and still is now) a man’s world so Uhura’s and Leila’s interests are eventually subsumed by Kirk’s desire to prove, “Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is.” This philosophy discounts ‘woman’ as part of ‘man’ and makes the female-gendered idea of creating peace and happiness submissive to the more male dominant idea of success defined by changing the world around him. Why is a love of nature, as evidenced in Spock’s line: “I have seen a dragon… but I’ve never stopped to look at clouds before, or rainbows” less of an ambition for man? Even the American Founding Fathers cared more for the land and its beauty than these final frontier founders seem to do as they travel the galaxy. Why is the existence of this previous girlfriend and the chance to hear “I love you” from a formerly feeling-less alien male, less of an ambition of (wo)man?

Fontana 2012Despite her straining to include her voice in this world, the male producer(s) still stamped their voice on the final product that became “This Side of Paradise”. Over the course of my career, I came to learn that Fontana shared that experience with many of the female writers who followed her, each one planting just enough seeds or dropping just enough breadcrumbs of her own opinion onto the fields of male creation for the rest of us ‘chick writers’ to follow. Where as a child I saw “This Side of Paradise” as an epic battle between sexy male leads, as an adult I see it as the continued battle for the hearts and minds of the audience waged by writers of different genders. It is a fight that several other sisters have carried on through the decades and one I’m willing to declare has been won by a relative newcomer to the scene, Shonda Rhimes. Through the creation of her own new frontier in Grey’s Anatomy, Rhimes provides male and female audiences alike with an all-inclusive world entirely conceived in a female mind. What do both the male and female doctors of Seattle Grace Hospital hope to provide their patients everyday? As Rodenberry provided a masculine ‘trek’ for man into the final frontier, the feminine goal Rhimes provides her characters is right there in the title of the hospital, ‘grace’. (And thanks to D. C. Fontana, Shonda chose to use her first name in her credits.)

All this musing makes me wonder how many young female writers are now coming to their careers because of a love of the way Patrick Dempsey’s chest ripples under his uniform shirt?

27 Nnedi Okorafor from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (23 seconds)

Watch this entire presentation

The Sisterhood of Science Fiction: A Walk Through Some Writers and Characters You (Should) Know And Love

27 Nnedi Okorafor from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction - Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (23 seconds)

Subscribe to Rosanne’s Channel and receive notice of each new video!

 

This one allowed me to riff on some of my favorite female science fiction writers across time, whether they be novelists or television writers. It also opened up a good conversation on what art we support and include in our lives – and what that art says to us and about us. — Rosanne

Transcript:

One of the most recent newer writers in the world is Nnedi Okorafor and she just won the World Fantasy Award in 201 — the World Fantasy Award for Best new novel Binti which is a fascinating novel but she’s got a couple out as well that I think are worth paying attention to. Again when he’s thinking about reading again she’s thinking about putting people of African descent in the future. That’s something she thinks of course is important so I think it was pretty cool. She’s Nigerian.



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out! 

Listen To The Podcast: Location as Character: The Craft of Writing Place Panel Panel at The Writers Guild Foundation [Audio]

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Listen To The Podcast: Location as Character: The Craft of Writing Place Panel Panel at The Writers Guild Foundation [Audio]

I really enjoyed being invited to moderate this Writers Guild Foundation panel co-hosted by Columbia Collge of Chicago’s Semester in LA program.

In honor of the co-host we chose to have a conversation about “Location as Character” – and for a kid from Cleveland, believe me, I know how much the place you come from infuses who you are – and how important it is for writers to properly portray the effect of location on the many characters who populate their programs. 

I was joined by a great collection of panelists from shows ranging from Queen Sugar to On Becoming a God in Central Florida to The Chi and Young Sheldon. Listen in when you have some time!

Listen to this podcast

Location as Character: The Craft of Writing Place Panel via Instagram

From @writersguildf – Writers Guild Foundation

We team up with @ColumbiaChi to talk about how locations inform and impact characters on TV with @qu33nofdrama, @SparksAnthony, Matt Lutsky, @RosanneWelch and Connor Kilpatrick.

 



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

26 Margaret Atwood from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (48 seconds)

Watch this entire presentation

The Sisterhood of Science Fiction: A Walk Through Some Writers and Characters You (Should) Know And Love

26 Margaret Atwood from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction - Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (48 seconds)

Subscribe to Rosanne’s Channel and receive notice of each new video!

 

This one allowed me to riff on some of my favorite female science fiction writers across time, whether they be novelists or television writers. It also opened up a good conversation on what art we support and include in our lives – and what that art says to us and about us. — Rosanne

Transcript:

Margaret Atwood more people know today than might have a little while ago. She had a book that was read a lot in high school sometimes. Sometimes not. Of course now as an Emmy-winning show on Hulu — The Handmaid’s Tale, which again looking at now issues of misogyny and how society treats women into the future and what could change in the world right? A few laws here. A few laws there change and suddenly people lose rights they used to have. We kind of have to remember in the United States we live by the laws of the Constitution but they can be revoted, right? So women only have the right to vote because we have an amendment. We took prohibition and we undid it and we repealed it. We can repeal any of those amendments. So it is important to think about right who’s in charge because things could change and that’s what she’s discussing there. She wrote that book 35 years ago — 35-40 years ago.



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
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New Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting One Sheet – Please Post and Share!

Here is our latest one sheet for the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Program.

Applications are now open, so please share this flyer with our interested friends, family and students!

New Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting One Sheet - Please Pos and Share!

Download a PDF Version – New Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting One Sheet

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25 Marge Piercy from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (46 seconds)

Watch this entire presentation

The Sisterhood of Science Fiction: A Walk Through Some Writers and Characters You (Should) Know And Love

25 Marge Piercy from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction - Dr. Rosanne Welch

 

Subscribe to Rosanne’s Channel and receive notice of each new video!

 

This one allowed me to riff on some of my favorite female science fiction writers across time, whether they be novelists or television writers. It also opened up a good conversation on what art we support and include in our lives – and what that art says to us and about us. — Rosanne

Transcript:

I really like Marge Piercy. In one of our classes we sometimes teach her book He, She, and It” which is the story of a Jewish female scientist in the future working with AI right and dealing with the concept of when will they become human and when won’t they and this stuff is getting more and more realistic on a real world. There was a country can’t remember which it was a couple years ago that offered citizenship to an AI robot. So yeah it’s a little crazy. So we’re getting into this place where science fiction used to play and now we’re talking about it in a real world. So March Percy did that like 30 years ago and I just love a lady with a cat. Come on now. She looks like an author. Ladies that have cats they must write books, I don’t know, but Marge Piercy is very very interesting in she’s sort of world understanding and world building and the rest is like “oh my gosh what do now?” That right that’s pretty good — like that book.



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out! 

How Do We Get Hidden Histories Out Into The World with Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (3 minutes 46 seconds)

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How Do We Get Hidden Histories Out Into The World Q&A

Dr. Rosanne Welch answers Susan LaTempa’s question during Q&A time after readings from Paperback LA writers

How Do We Get Hidden Histories Out Into The World with Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (3 minute 46 seconds)

I talk about Eve Unsell and other forgotten women screenwriting pioneers and how I am working to make their stories better known in both Hollywood and around the world using my other book, When Women Wrote Hollywood.

I was among 5 writers highlighted in the Paperpback LA 3 Issue Trilogy and did a reading from my article “Hey, Hey, They Wrote The Monkees!” which was reprinted in Paperback LA #3

It was a great night, with great writing and reading and with a full house of people.


Buy Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture

A hit television show about a fictitious rock band, The Monkees (1966-1968) earned two Emmys–Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Directorial Acheivement in Comedy.

Capitalizing on the show’s success, the actual band formed by the actors, at their peak, sold more albums than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined, and set the stage for other musical TV characters from The Partridge Family to Hannah Montana. In the late 1980s, the Monkees began a series of reunion tours that continued into their 50th anniversary.

This book tells the story of The Monkees and how the show changed television, introducing a new generation to the fourth-wall-breaking slapstick created by Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers.

Its creators contributed to the innovative film and television of 1970s with projects like Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Laugh-In and Welcome Back, Kotter. Immense profits from the show, its music and its merchandising funded the producers’ move into films such as Head, Easy Riderand Five Easy Pieces.

McFarland (Direct from Publisher) | Amazon | Kindle Edition | Nook Edition

Want to use “Why The Monkees Matter” in your classroom?

Order Examination Copies, Library and Campus Bookstore orders directly from McFarland

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DTLA Film Festival panel discussion, Privileged Characters: How to recognize and avoid implicit bias in your screenwriting via Instagram

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DTLA Film Festival panel discussion, Privileged Characters: How to recognize and avoid implicit bias in your screenwriting.

DTLA Film Festival panel discussion, Privileged Characters: How to recognize and avoid implicit bias in your screenwriting via Instagram

Video of this panel coming soon