Dr. Rosanne Welch Quoted in Bitch Media article on Women Screenwriters

Journalist Alexis Schwartz contacted me a few weeks ago to be interviewed for an article she was writing about female writers in Hollywood on the eve of hoping a woman would win this year’s Oscar for Best Screenplay.

Alexis noted, teenagers entering high school this fall would never have seen a female win in that category since the last win was 13 years ago (Diablo Cody for Juno).  Happily, Emerald Fennell did win – for Promising Young Woman. Then Chloe Zhao won for directing Nomadland.  Yet notice how in the Chloe Zhao descriptions no one calls her the writer-director of Nomadland even though she adapted the book. They only call her the director – though she did both important tasks on that now Academy Award-winning film.  So there is still much work to be done for writers to be recognized on an equal level.

We had so much fun talking and there was so much to say that it’s no surprise something got mixed up.  The initial published version of the story reported that Eve Unsell was Cecil B. deMille’s mother – but that was playwright, Broadway producer Beatrice deMille who had hired Unsell after reading one of her short stories and therefore began Unsell’s career as one of Hollywood’s earliest writer-producer-directors – and as the woman who taught Hitchcock how to direct.  Read the article to learn more.  And then read our book – When Women Wrote Hollywood – to learn more about the important work women have been doing since the founding of the film industry.

As Alexis and I noted during the interview – we really could talk about this all day – and look – how wonderful for both Fennel and Zhao to win that night.

Dr. Rosanne Welch

Emerald Fennell attends the 2020 Sundance Film Festival  Promising Young Woman premiere on January 25 2020 in Park City Utah header

A Woman Hasn’t Won a Writing Oscar in 13 Years. That Could Change on Sunday by Alexis Schwartz

The 2007 Academy Awards’ futuristic stage was adorned with three large pillars—some 25 feet in diameter—superficially holding up the Dolby Theatre. Within the stage’s center, an equally large Oscar statue loomed over the diminutive presenters like a god demanding hecatomb. Throughout the evening, celebrities weaved through the stage, including winners Alan Arkin, Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, and Martin Scorsese, the latter of whom’s cop-and-mob film The Departed (2006) would go on to win four statues that evening. But something happened in the middle-pack of the awards—more “popular” than sound editing, less “popular” than original score —an unsuspecting former exotic dancer and first-time screenwriter, Diablo Cody, won Best Original Screenplay for her freshman film, Juno.

[…]

Writers such as Jeanie MacPherson, who wrote most of the profitable films credited to director and Hollywood tycoon Cecil B. deMille, have been all but forgotten. Meanwhile, deMille is described as “a founder of the Hollywood motion-picture industry” and is the namesake for the Cecil B. deMille Award of Excellence presented annually at the Golden Globes. Paradoxically, deMille’s mother, Eve Unsell, who taught Alfred Hitchcock everything he knew was later regarded as an erasable footnote by Hitchock himself. She was left uncredited in his memoir—only to be known as “a middle-aged woman.” Even worse, these titans set a precedent by often discrediting writers’ work during interviews. This became standard practice—if the writer was mentioned at all. “The [director-ownership model] destroyed writers, even great men, like Preston Sturges [the first-ever winner of the Academy Award for Original Screenplay], had to become directors to protect their words and characters,” Rosanne Welch, PhD, screenwriting historian and former Beverly Hills 90210 writer says. “No one was safe.”

[…]

Read the entire article — A Woman Hasn’t Won a Writing Oscar in 13 Years. That Could Change on Sunday by Alexis Schwartz

Rosanne presents to Oxford Brookes University Students in transatlantic creative education exchange

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Previous, on-site, presentation at Oxford Brookes

Thanks for our meeting at a Screenwriting Research Network conference almost 10 years ago Dr. Paolo Russo (of Oxford Brookes University) and I have been able to engage in a few transatlantic creative exchanges.

He’s come to speak on Italian Neo-realism to my MFA candidates and I had the pleasure of visiting with his masters candidates (in person! when that was still possible) and giving them notes on their drama series treatments. 

This week I’ll be doing that again on Zoom with the help of Shannon Dobson Fopeano, my Graduate Assistant in the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting.  Paolo and I are both interested in expanding the reach of this cross-ocean collegiality in the future!

Stephens College MFA In TV And Screenwriting Workshop

 

Dr. Rosanne Welch Speaks On “An Introduction to the Women of Early TV: There are More Women than Lucy to Love“ for the American Women Writers National Museum [Virtual via Zoom]

I’m thrilled to have been asked to make a presentation for the American Women Writers National Museum (AWWNM) on the topic of “An Introduction to the Women of Early TV: There are More Women than Lucy to Love“.  I’ll be discussing the groundbreaking work of women from Gertrude Berg (one of the first women to create, write, produce and star in a long-running hit — The Goldbergs) to D.C. Fontana (Star Trek).    — RMW Rosanne Signature for Web


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RSVP Today! 
Email AWWNM1@gmail.com

Wed Feb 10, 2021 noon-12:45 EDT

“An Introduction to the Women of Early TV: There are More Women than Lucy to Love“

Sponsored by: American Women Writers National Museum

Time & Place: noon-12:45 p.m. EDT / 9 AM PDT via Zoom

All AWWNM programs are now via Zoom until further notice. Invitations are sent via email to AWWNM’s mailing list. RSVPS are REQUIRED in order to receive a link to a specific program. If you would like an invitation, email request to AWWNM1@gmail.com.

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Executive Director of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting, Author, Historian and Book Reviews editor of the Journal of Screenwriting will profile pioneer women who created, produced and worked on many of America’s most wildly popular early TV Programs. 

“My goal is to rescue these talented women from historical oblivion”, she said.

Some of the women writers she will discuss are:

  • Lucille Ball (1911-1989) of “I Love Lucy” fame, who also ran Desilu production company and greenlighted the blockbuster Star Trek productions.
  • Treva Silverman (1936- ) winner of two Emmy awards for the brilliant comedy The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
  • D.C. Fontana (Dorothy Catherine) Fontana (1939-2019) a story editor of Star Trek
  • Leigh Brackett (1915-1878) known as “Queen of the Space Opera” who wrote on or worked on timeless films: The Big Sleep (1946), Rio Bravo (1959), The Long Goodbye (1973) and The Empire Strike Back (1980).
  • Peg Lynch (1915-2015) She wrote about 11,000 scripts for radio and TV

New Book by IGE Lecturers Critique the Civil War in Films via PolyCentric [News]

New Book by IGE Lecturers Critique the Civil War in Films via PolyCentric [News]

Recently my co-author Peg Lamphier and I sat for an interview about our Civil War on Film book to discuss the American film industry’s depiction of the American Civil War and the mythologies and ideologies surrounding the experience of that war. 

We completely destroy any idea that there is something noble and admirable about the Confederacy. There is not. They fought to preserve human bondage. That should be morally revolting to all twenty-first century Americans and the fact that it is not is a testament to how far we still have to go to heal the wounds of our nation’s history of slavery.

Suddenly, the book seems even more timely than when we began writing it 2 years ago. — Rosanne


New Book by IGE Lecturers Critique the Civil War in Films 

For their third book project, lecturers Peg Lamphier and Roseanne Welch, in the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education, decided to write a book examining the American film industry’s depiction of the American Civil War. In their book, “The Civil War on Film,” the authors contend that American films are filled with mythologies and ideologies surrounding the experience of the war and further research is required to uncover the full, real history.

New Book by IGE Lecturers Critique the Civil War in Films via PolyCentric [News]

Peg Lamphier and Roseanne Welch, lecturers in the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education, team up on their third book, which examines the American film industry’s depiction of the American Civil War.

According to the authors, the Civil War, which occurred from 1861-1865, is contested ground both among historians and the general public. They argue that most are clear about the anti-slavery aims of the war, as well as the fundamentally treasonous nature of succession, but neo-Confederates cast the war in terms favorable to their white supremacist agenda.

In a joint statement, Lamphier and Welch wrote, “Our book is entirely unsympathetic to the Neo-Con/Lost Cause agenda and so we’re engaged in a vigorous refutation of a number of pro-Confederate myths that serve to hamper racial equality in modern America. We hope readers will better understand the nature of the war and the troubled way it’s been filmed as they work through our book. We also hope it shows readers that films always engage in a bit of fictionalization in order to heighten the drama.”

Read this entire article

Other Welch/Lamphier Books

Recent Excellent Review of “When Women Wrote Hollywood” in The Journal of American Culture

The Journal of American Culture

I’m happy to say our book just received a review in The Journal of American Culture.

The reviewer (from the University College of North Manitoba, Canada) singled out several chapters for being outstanding for various reasons.  They found Amelia Phillips’s chapter on Jeanne Macpherson to demonstrate “exacting research”, Julie Berkobien’s chapter on Francis and Albert Hackett to be “beautifully crafted” and Chase Thompson’s chapter on Lois Weber to be “trailblazing”.  They found that Pamela Scott gives “thorough and measured” coverage to the scripts of Sarah Y. Mason and Victor Heerman; Laura Kirk “comprehensively” examines Sam and Bella Spewak’s signature style;  Kelly Zinge authored “carefully detailed discussion” of Lillian Hellman’s confrontation with the Blacklist, and that Elizabeth Dwyer’s work on Dorothy Parker is “riveting.”

Congratulations to all the contributors to our book!

Buy “When Women Wrote Hollywood” Today!


When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on Female Screenwriters in the Early Film Industry

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“Name Screenwriters” says Dr. Rosanne Welch in Letter to Los Angeles Times

Because I believe that you can’t change things unless you challenge them, whenever I see a newspaper article about a film where the writer uses the director’s possessive (as in “Spielberg’s Lincoln) and never mention the writer (which in that case was Pulitzer Prize-winning Tony Kushner – Spielberg has never won a Pulitzer Prize), I try to write a letter to the editor explaining the mistake. 

Often they print them. Once my letter appeared alongside a letter with a similar point, written by the author of one of our History of Screenwriting textbooks (who has come to speak to our students during Workshop – Tom Stempel).

This morning the LA Times published this letter. — Rosanne

To the editor: Your editorial elevated “compelling storytelling” as a quality that makes a movie great, but when listing examples of noteworthy films — “Lawrence of Arabia,” “The Shining” and “Vertigo” — you used the director’s possessive to identify the films, not once mentioning the writers (both novelists and screenwriters).

“Lawrence of Arabia” came to screens thanks to the book by T.E. Lawrence, which was adapted by screenwriters Robert Bolt and the blacklisted Michael Wilson. “The Shining” came from the mind of prolific novelist Stephen King, whose book was adapted by Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson, with Kubric directing. “Vertigo” is based on the novel “D’entre les morts” by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, which was adapted by Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor.

I’ve never understood why newspaper writers forget to name screenwriters when discussing movies. It seems an absurd example of internalized artistic oppression.

How can I be able to teach up-and-coming screenwriters their own value if journalists keep naming films as the property of the directors?

Rosanne Welch, Van Nuys

The writer is executive director of Stephens College’s master of fine arts program in TV and screenwriting.

Why The Monkees Matter Cited in Michael Stipe Article via Showbiz Cheatsheet

Always nice to find my book cited in someone else’s writing – and on this post blogger Matthew Trzcinski also embedded a link to “Daydream Believer”… — Rosanne

Beatles: Why Michael Stipe of R.E.M. Called Their Songs ‘Elevator Music’ via Showbiz Cheatsheet

Why The Monkees Matter Cited in Michael Stipe Article via Showbiz Cheatsheet

[…]

Stipe did care about one of the bands inspired by Beatlemania: the Monkees. According to Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture, Stipe said the Monkees mattered much more to him than the Fab Four. He said the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” was his favorite song as a child and remained a guilty pleasure. Stipe even cited the Monkees as a musical influence. Given that the Fab Four inspired the Monkees, Stipe did take some influence from the Beatles, just not directly.

[…]

Read Beatles: Why Michael Stipe of R.E.M. Called Their Songs ‘Elevator Music’ via Showbiz Cheatsheet


Want to learn more about The Monkees? Buy Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture Why The Monkees Matter 

Bookshop | Amazon

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 | Bookshop

Nicholas Nicky Laskin, Current MFA candidate in the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Program, is a frequent contributor to The Playlist

Playlist

Nicholas Nicky Laskin, Current MFA candidate in the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Program is a frequent contributor to The Playlist (a leading film and television website, offering smart yet accessible news, analysis, critical takes and more for the film community at large, founded in 2007 by Rodrigo Perez).

Read Nick’s Top 10 Films of 2019 as you contemplate what to catch up on over the holidays.

Nicholas Nicky Laskin, Current MFA candidate in the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting, is a frequent contributor to The Playlist


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Screenwriters (once again) left out of Los Angeles Times Maleficent Story!

Screenwriters (once again) left out of Los Angeles Times Maleficent Story!

This is definitely driving me crazy!

After reading the attached article I had to write this letter to the Los Angeles Times:

Did Tracy Brown  really write a whole article (“How Angelina Jolie’s daughter inspired the secret backstory of ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’”) about the story process for the new Maleficent sequel WITHOUT ONCE mentioning the name of the credited screenwriters – Linda Woolverton (who also wrote the original film) and Noah Harpster?

The article even begins with naming the director in the first sentence. This is a ludicrous example of the unexplained contempt journalists (who are writers themselves) seem to have against screenwriters – or solid evidence that the now disproved-in-academia-but-still-mistakenly-believed-by-others auteur theory still holds sway. But directors do not write their films unless you call them ‘writer-directors’.

Read the entire article – “How Angelina Jolie’s daughter inspired the secret backstory of ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’”

Dr. Rosanne Welch Named As The New Executive Director Of Stephens College MFA In TV And Screenwriting Program

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From Stephens College Office of Academic Affairs…

I am pleased to share with you the following announcement about an exciting change of leadership for the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting program. Congratulations to the team and thank you for all of your hard work building an amazing program.
– Dr. Leslie Willey, Stephens College Vice President for Academic Affairs

Rmw profile 2019The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting  established in 2014, has named Dr. Rosanne Welch as the new executive director. Program founder and former director Ken LaZebnik will serve as Writer-in-Residence, while Khanisha Foster ’17, a graduate of the M.F.A. program, will serve as associate director. The program also features 15 faculty mentors and a rotating group of guest lecturers, all working writers, members of the Writers Guild and successful industry professionals.

Welch has served as a faculty member in the M.F.A. program since its start, creating a set of courses around the history of screenwriting, and teaching courses in one-hour drama. Her television writing credits include “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Picket Fences,” “ABC News: Nightline” and “Touched by an Angel.”

She edited “When Women Wrote Hollywood,” a book of essays published in 2018 that was named runner-up for the Susan Koppelman Award honoring the best anthology, multi-authored or edited book in feminist studies by the Popular Culture Association. She co-edited “Women in American History: A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia,” which was named to both the 2018 Outstanding References Sources List and the list of Best Historical Materials by the American Library Association, and authored “Why the Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Popular Culture.”

Welch serves as book reviews editor for the Journal of Screenwriting and on the editorial board for Written By magazine. She was elected to the executive committee of the International Screenwriting Research Network this year for a two-year term.