Giving Voice to Silent Films and the Far From Silent Women Who Wrote Them with Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (17:44)

Giving Voice to Silent Films and the Far From Silent Women Who Wrote Them with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Giving Voice to Silent Films and the Far From Silent Women Who Wrote Them with Dr. Rosanne Welch

 

A recording of my presentation at this year’s University Film and Video Association (UFVA) 2017 conference.

I was pleased to be asked to participate in a panel designed by former student (and current kick-ass professor) Warren Lewis. The panel included two other former students from the MFA in Screenwriting program at CSUF: David Morgassen and Lucas Cuny. For the panel’s theme — “What Else Do We Teach When We Teach Screenwriting: Context And Controversy: Strategies For Teaching Film And Television History And Current Events To Screenwriters” — I chose to present on: “Giving Voice to Silent Films and the Far From Silent Women Who Wrote Them”.

It involves the fact that when teaching screenwriting history, I begin chronologically. In essence I force students to watch the classic films of the silent era (happily accessible for free on YouTube) first because that is when women ran the town as evidenced in Cari Beachamp’s Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood”.) Beauchamp’s book is on my reading list so that they can encounter the careers of Frances Marion, Anita Loos, Lois Weber, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Eve Unsell and a host of other women who ran their own production companies for many years.

Secondly, knowing women once ran Hollywood makes it harder for today’s executives to wonder if today’s women can do the same.
Third, I have learned that teaching silent films reminds modern students that in screenwriting the visual is as important as the verbal.

Fourth, recognizing the birth of major iconic archetypes helps them recognize those archetypes in modern films and develop their own characters more three-dimensionally.
Fifth, I had to embarrassingly realize that in my zest to focus on forgotten females, I forgot to cover the careers of forgotten men and women of color and so expanded my viewing list to include the work of Oscar Mischeaux and other artists of color from the era.

Finally, I stretch back to the silents as a reminder that all artists stand of the shoulders of those who came before them – be they women or men.

Books Mentioned In This Presentation

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About Dr. Rosanne Welch

Rosanne Welch, PhD has written for television (Touched by an Angel, Picket Fences) and print (Three Ring Circus: How Real Couples Balance Marriage, Work and Kids and The Encyclopedia of Women in Aviation and Space). In the documentary world she has written and produced Bill Clinton and the Boys Nation Class of 1963 for ABC NEWS/Nightline and consulted on PBS’s A Prince Among Slaves, the story of a prince from West Africa who was enslaved in the 1780s, freed by order of President John Quincy Adams in the 1820s and returned to his homeland.

Conclusion and Acknowledgements from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing [Video] (1:48)

This book signing at Book Soup was wonderful – good people, good conversation (before and after the signing). Just another example of the kind of quality positive people who have been drawn to The Monkees across generations – I even met a former head of publicity for ScreenGems who had some fun stories to tell. — Rosanne

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Conclusion and Acknowledgements from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing

 

Transcript:

For me, the book is hoping to contribute to the significance of The Monkees. That’s why it’s called “Why The Monkees Matter.” What is it that we learn from them and those are just a few of the thing that strikes me. I think that if we meet this group of early television writers and performers and directors — all of them who made television back in the day — it’s going to help us understand what I call the magic of The Monkees and how much The Monkees have contributed to the myths we have about the magic of the 1960s. So, for me, that was the purpose of putting the book together along with getting to interview Micky Dolenz. That was always underneath it all.

While I have the chance, of course, I want to thank a lot of people that were involved with helping me with the book. My friend, Mia — who’s not here tonight, but she copyedited for me and that was really important to have somebody look at all my spelling. I’m not bad at spelling, but you know, when you’re in a hurry and see things it was great to have someone do that. Of course, I want to think my Mom for letting me watch TV so much when I was a kid, because, geez whiz, I grew up to be a TV writer and write books about TV. So I was actually studying back in the day. Nobody was really paying attention. So I think that’s really important. Some people said you shouldn’t let your kids watch TV. It will be bad for them and it turned out to be very good for me. So, I have to say, I have to thank my husband and my son, because I spent many nights just typing on my computer ignoring them and they seemed to be fine with that and, in fact, i also have to thank my son for coming to Monkees concerts with me and for reminding me that they have something else yet to teach which is that when he was 15 and saw them perform at the age of 70, yet he had seen them in television at the age of 18, because that is when they are forever saved in these programs, he said that what he learned from watching them is that he should find something he loved to do in life because he wanted to be able to do it as long as they were doing what they loved and to me that’s a huge lesson and I think they just continue teaching us lessons over and over and over.

Buy “Why The Monkees Matter” Today!

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

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

Rosanne Welch talks “The Invention of the Teenager” on Pop!: The Pop Culture Podcast

Rosanne Welch talks “The Invention of the Teenager” on Pop!: The Pop Culture Podcast

I had quite a good time when Ken Mills interviewed me about the ‘invention’ of the teenager – something I teach in my classes and spent a whole chapter on in my book, Why The Monkees Matter!

Marketers created teenagers in the same way The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon helped spread the term Tweeners for their shows.

The whole episode is fun – I really like the coverage of Anne Moses and her time editing Tiger Beat Magazine (but if you’re pressed for time my interview starts at 18:22).

Rosanne Welch talks

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Buy “Why The Monkees Matter” Today!

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

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

Personal Identity and The Monkees from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing [Video] (0:37)

This book signing at Book Soup was wonderful – good people, good conversation (before and after the signing). Just another example of the kind of quality positive people who have been drawn to The Monkees across generations – I even met a former head of publicity for ScreenGems who had some fun stories to tell. — Rosanne

Watch this entire presentation

Personal Identity and The Monkees from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing [Video] (0:37)

 

Transcript:

So it was very interesting, by using their own names they actually caused a difficulty in anyone really understanding who they were. I always say that if you think about it Davy Jones was the Neil Patrick Harris of his day, because he had come off Broadway and a Tony nomination for Oliver! — he played the Artful Dodger. So, after The Monkees was over he should have been able to return to Broadway, but nobody made room for him because they thought , “Ah, he’s just a bubblegum singer.” They completely dismissed him and yet he  had been part of them where as Neil Patrick Harris has gone form Doogie Howser to Broadway, back to television in How I Met Your Mother, back to Broadway and winning a Tony for Hedwig. So,  the times weren’t sophisticated enough yet to understand that ability.

Buy “Why The Monkees Matter” Today!

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

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

Characters vs. Actors and The Monkees from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing [Video] (1:10)

This book signing at Book Soup was wonderful – good people, good conversation (before and after the signing). Just another example of the kind of quality positive people who have been drawn to The Monkees across generations – I even met a former head of publicity for ScreenGems who had some fun stories to tell. — Rosanne

Watch this entire presentation

Characters vs. Actors and The Monkees from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing

 

Transcript:

The other thing that’s really interesting is they made a choice in the show for all the actors and musicians to use their own names as their characters. Any other show — The Partridge Family — they were The Partridge Family but that wasn’t their actual names in real life, but on The Monkees they were using their real names and this gets into a whole chapter i have on political ideology and identity. How we decide who’s who and how publicists had to decide how to present these people. Are they — first of all, when Davy got married they didn’t tell anybody because they thought all the girls would stop liking him, so how hard it is to be married in the real world and have to hide your wife and how much does she like not being able to tell people who she really is. They had to make choices about that and the idea that on concerts they were Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones and Peter Tork and those were their names on the show. On the show they were a bunch of kids who couldn’t get a job to save their souls. So when the show was over that ability for Americans not be be able to separate out actors from characters was difficult. Because suddenly everyone thought that they were a couple of goofballs or they were famous rock stars who didn’t need to be actors anymore.

Buy “Why The Monkees Matter” Today!

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

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

Commentary, Comedy, and The Monkees from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing [Video] (1:01)

This book signing at Book Soup was wonderful – good people, good conversation (before and after the signing). Just another example of the kind of quality positive people who have been drawn to The Monkees across generations – I even met a former head of publicity for ScreenGems who had some fun stories to tell. — Rosanne

Watch this entire presentation

Commentary, Comedy, and The Monkees from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing 

 

Transcript:

When I talked to the writers about that they said it was because the censors didn’t get it. They had no ideas what they were actually saying.They just thought it was some sort goofy — I don’t know — you could have called it Italy for all anyone cared. They did not see the connection. That happened a lot. There are a lot of drug jokes on the show. They talk about taking trips a lot and that sort of thing. They talk about taking pills that will give you funny visions and they have a great moment in one of the episodes where they’re doing a little flashback — a fake fantasy — and Micky goes to visit Mike who is the “Middle Llama” because the High Llama is off sleeping it off out back. And it stayed on the air, but just a year after The Monkees went off the air The Smothers Brothers come on and they make the same jokes and they get canceled. They get canceled for being overtly political on television, but here were these guys doing the very thing for two years and nobody noticed. Partially because it was all slapstick humor — you’re talking about vaudeville — they were very much like The Marx Bros as we know and partially the censors just didn’t get it.

Buy “Why The Monkees Matter” Today!

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

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

Vietnam War and The Monkees from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing [Video] (0:48)

This book signing at Book Soup was wonderful – good people, good conversation (before and after the signing). Just another example of the kind of quality positive people who have been drawn to The Monkees across generations – I even met a former head of publicity for ScreenGems who had some fun stories to tell. — Rosanne

Watch this entire presentation

Vietnam War and The Monkees from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing

 

Transcript:

I think also the show introduced the audience to a lot of new political ideas that weren’t supposed to be on television, but as the writers told me, they were young. They were hip. They were using language that the censors didn’t quite understand so, by accident, they got through some ideas. One of my favorites is a scene where all four of the guys are playing a game of dominos and, at one point, they drop all the dominos flat on the table and Davy says to Peter, “What do you call this game?” and Peter says, ‘Southeast Asia.” Because the Domino Theory of communism that Johnson had put fortth — as putting forward was that we had to stop communism any time it started to spread or it would domino through the whole of Asia. So, literally they had just made a comment about the Vietnam War and the censors didn’t cut that out of the show.

Buy “Why The Monkees Matter” Today!

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

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

 

Treva Silverman and Women Characters from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing [Video] (0:28)

This book signing at Book Soup was wonderful – good people, good conversation (before and after the signing). Just another example of the kind of quality positive people who have been drawn to The Monkees across generations – I even met a former head of publicity for ScreenGems who had some fun stories to tell. — Rosanne

Watch this entire presentation

Treva Silverman and Women Characters from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing

 

Transcript:

And she won Emmys for writing the episode where Lou Grant wife asks him for a divorce, which was huge in the early 70’s. That was a crazy idea and James Burrows, who was the producer of The Mary Tyler More Show in several book son the show has said that Treva was the feminist heart of that show. So, she had that idea on Mary Tyler More or course she had that on The Monkees, too. So in those rooms when they talked about the girl friends, she made sure they were 3-dimensional, interesting women.

Buy “Why The Monkees Matter” Today!

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

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

 

05 : Girls, The Beach House and The Monkees: “Why The Monkees Matter” Interview with Jean Hopkins Power

Rosanne Welch talks about “Why The Monkees Matter” with Jean Hopkins Power

Watch this entire presentation (45 mins)

Jean Powergirl takes the host reigns and welcomes her guest Rosanne Welch, PhD to the show! They’ll be discussing Roseanne’s book, “Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture.”

05 : Girls, The Beach House and The Monkees: “Why The Monkees Matter” Interview with Jean Hopkins Power

 

Transcript:

Jean: So they had this beach house and this was cool and there are these single boys now, but they did kind of keep it kind of wholesome. Now did they have girls spending the night over at the beach house or anything like that?

Rosanne: They did not. When I came to study the show because I loved it as a kid and when I decided to study it I thought, “Oh, well a show about rock-and-rollers. It’s going to be every week about who’s have sex with which girl and maybe as a kid, I didn’t remember that. And then I watched all 58 episodes in an era when I’m also watching The Big Bang Theory because that’s the number one comedy of our day and that’s of course about 4 scientists who spend their days discussing who they’re going to have sex with and it turned out, of course, because of the rules of what you could and couldn’t do on television at the time that The Monkees couldn’t do that. So when they had girlfriends we always saw that the girls left before the boys had time in their beach house. They never spent the night.

Jean: So it wouldn’t offend the sensibilities of the parents that are watching this television show with their teenagers and things like that.

Get your copy today!

A hit television show about a fictitious rock band, The Monkees (1966-1968) earned two Emmys–Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Directorial Achievement 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 Rider and Five Easy Pieces.

Rosanne Welch, PhD has written for television (Touched by an Angel, Picket Fences) and print (Three Ring Circus: How Real Couples Balance Marriage, Work and Kids and The Encyclopedia of Women in Aviation and Space). In the documentary world she has written and produced Bill Clinton and the Boys Nation Class of 1963 for ABC NEWS/Nightline and consulted on PBS’s A Prince Among Slaves, the story of a prince from West Africa who was enslaved in the 1780s, freed by order of President John Quincy Adams in the 1820s and returned to his homeland.

Women Writers and The Monkees from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing [Video] (0:54)

This book signing at Book Soup was wonderful – good people, good conversation (before and after the signing). Just another example of the kind of quality positive people who have been drawn to The Monkees across generations – I even met a former head of publicity for ScreenGems who had some fun stories to tell. — Rosanne

Watch this entire presentation

Women Writers and The Monkees from Why The Monkees Matter Book Signing

 

Transcript:

And my theory is, watching those women as a child made me want to grow up to be somebody of value because that’s how you caught yourself a Monkee, not by being a dizzy-headed cheerleader. All right? But who knows if that what’s your looking at when your six, seven or eight, that’s when you’re deciding who you want to be. So, I think that’s a really important message that the show carried and might not have known they were carrying it except if you credit writers, which is what Ido a lot of in the book. I interviewed all the writers on the show and to me, that was really interesting. One of them is Treva Silverman. She was the first female writer in television to write alone on a comedy. Other women had male partners. So the fact that she came onto the show and had these ideas about being a feminist. She was from New York. She had come out to LA to be a TV writer. That’s a crazy idea even back then and it’s a crazy idea today and she left The Monkees when the show went off the air. She joined The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Buy “Why The Monkees Matter” Today!

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

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