45 Casting and Production Issues from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

45 Casting and Production Issues from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

Thanks to the gracious invitation from my Screenwriting Research Network colleague Paolo Russo – and a grant he was able to procure (and in the before-Covid time) I was able to spend a week at Oxford Brookes University working with the screenwriting masters students in Paolo’s course. At the culmination of the week, I gave this lecture on how writers rooms worked in the States.


But now I had to deal with everybody else and their stereotypes. One of which was oh so the gang should clearly be Black or Hispanic and I was like no no we’ve done that too much. In my neighborhood, they were Armenian gangs at the time. Not that you want to pick on any one group but you know it was a new group that hadn’t been picked on too much on TV. I argued for a good solid two days in that room why it should be an Armenian gang and I kept getting flack about America doesn’t understand that. They only understand these two groups blah blah and I was losing that battle and one of the producers told me to shut up and I kept talking because I didn’t want to lose that battle until finally, the person who usurped me was the casting director who knew that was the storyline we were playing with and he came in the room and he said I don’t have an Armenian actor who could be a guest star but I have this guy Renoly Santiago who had just done Hackers, Conair and oh the Michelle Pfeiffer movie where she’s a teacher and she used to be the military. it’s not Stand and Deliver… Dangerous Minds. He had just started all three of those movies and he was willing to do a television episode. So the casting director came in and said we got him. He’s Hispanic. That’s the gang and I lost the argument based on the popularity of the guest actor they could get.

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