Screenwriter Laura West Perelman: From New York to LA and Back – Dr. Rosanne Welch, Script Magazine, June 2022

Screenwriter Laura West Perelman: From New York to LA and Back – Dr. Dr. Rosanne Welch, Script Magazine, June 2022

 

This month in my monthly column for Script Magazine – which “celebrates the female screenwriters who came before us” — I turn the spotlight on playwright turned screenwriter Laura West Perelman. She wrote 6 films, many adapted from plays she had co-written with her husband, humorist S. J. Perelman. I learned more about her when I researched them both for my dissertation “Married: With Screenplay” which studied several married screenwriting couples from the early days of Hollywood.

What I learned that happened often with married couples is that many of the female screenwriters were lost to history as newspapers referred more often to their husbands as the authors of the works. Unless the woman was equal or more famous than her writing partner husband (such as was the case with Dorothy Parker, Ruth Gordon, and Frances Goodrich Hackett) the contribution of the wifely part of the partnership was ignored, even by later oral historians. So it’s nice to have a place to bring their names back into the conversation about their screenplays.

Screenwriter Laura West Perelman: From New York to LA and Back


Read about more women from early Hollywood

 

New Book Coming This November – “American Women’s History on Film” by Rosanne Welch and Peg A. Lamphier

I’m proud to announce my latest book (co-written by my colleague Peg Lamphier) is set for publication this November 2022 by ABC-Clio/Bloomsbury. In it we take a look at 10 films that tell stories about famous moments or women from Women’s History in the United States.

New Book Coming This November – 

Films covered in each chapter are:

  1. Norma Rae (1979)
  2. Silkwood (1983)
  3. Joy Luck Club (1993)
  4. GI Jane (1997)
  5. Iron-Jawed Angels (2004)
  6. Salt of the Earth (1954)
  7. Monster (2003)
  8. Hidden Figures (2016)
  9. Confirmation (2016)
  10. On the Basis of Sex (2018)

We’re particularly pleased with this cover. We learned from our Encyclopedia of Science and Technology that you have to ask for what you want upfront. For that one, the art department had chosen photos of 2 male inventors and the space shuttle to decorate the cover. We asked that it be 2 male inventors and one female inventor for balance. No one had thought about including a female until we asked. So for our Civil War on Film book, we asked for that upfront and sure enough, though the bulk of Civil War films are full of dudes in uniforms they found a photo of Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln sitting beside Mr. Lincoln.

For Women’s History in the United States, we asked to be sure to include women of color and you’ll see we succeeded at that request.

Similarly, a couple of years ago in my work as book reviews editor for the Journal of Screenwriting I asked to use a photo of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala on the cover since one major article was about her amazing career writing everything from Room with a View to Howard’s End to Jefferson in Paris. The editor agreed but then production hit a snag in that the only photo available in our price range was too small to blow up to fill the whole cover. But then someone in production had the great idea to use that small photo several times, strung along on a graphic that made it look like a strip of film with that same picture in every frame. Creative and brilliant and salvaged the idea of having a female face on the cover while simultaneously celebrating the work of a wonderful female writer.

I’m learning!

RMW Rosanne Signature for Web

From ABC-Clio…

By exploring a range of films about American women, this book offers readers an opportunity to engage in both history and film in a new way, embracing representation, diversity, and historical context.

Throughout film history, stories of women achieving in American history appear few and far between compared to the many epic tales of male achievement. This book focuses largely on films written by women and about women who tackled the humanist issues of their day and mostly won.

Films about women are important for all viewers of all genders because they remind us that the American Experience is not just male and white. This book examines 10 films, featuring diverse depictions of women and women’s history, and encourages readers to discern how and where these films deviate from historical accuracy. Covering films from the 1950s all the way to the 2010s, this text is invaluable for students and general readers who wish to interrogate the way women’s history appears on the big screen.

Features

  • Focuses on 10 films with an emphasis on racial and class diversity
  • Explores where storytelling and historical accuracy diverge and clarifies the historical record around the events of the films
  • Organized chronologically, emphasizing the progression of women’s history as portrayed on film
  • Accessible for general readers as well as students

 

The live reading cast of “Mount Wilson” at @seriesfest runs through their tech rehearsal for tonight’s show. [Photos]

The live reading cast of “Mount Wilson” at @seriesfest runs through their tech rehearsal for tonight’s show. [Photos]

The live reading cast of “Mount Wilson” at @seriesfest runs through their tech rehearsal for tonight’s show.

Written by Adam Parker @wawparker , Misty Brawner, Betsy Leighton , Dr. Rosanne Welch

From SeriesFest…

Join us for the first public read of Mount Wilson, a drama pilot which follows Edwin Hubble, a rising astronomer, as he navigates his own web of lies as he works to disprove the theories of some of the greatest minds of the 20th Century. Hubble finds an unlikely alliance in Milton Humason, a maintenance worker at the Mount Wilson Observatory, who may just hold the key to the secrets of the Universe. Mount Wilson was written in partnership with the SeriesFest Writers Room Initiative and produced by Dilettante Productions and Unreal Media.

A Table Reading: “Mount Wilson: 4-hour mini-series based on a book about the life of Edwin Hubble” – SeriesFest 2022 – Denver, CO

Mount Wilson Observatory

I’m happy to announce the public table reading of a new script I’ve co-written with 3 alums of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting (Betsy Leighton, Misty Brawner, Adam Parker).  We were all involved in a mini-writers room earlier last year to come up with the outline for a 4-hour mini-series based on a book about the life of Edwin Hubble (of Hubble Telescope fame) – and we did.  Then the 4 of us wrote the pilot. Now we’ll all be attending the reading at the Gates Planetarium in Denver as part of SeriesFest.

Seriesfest

In honor of that project Douglas and I recently visited Mt. Wilson once again in this almost-post pandemic world and took photos of things like Hubble’s desk, and the wooden ladder they used to reach the platform – and, of course, the 100-inch telescope from which he made his major discoveries about the galaxy. 

What were these discoveries?  Well, you’ll have to attend the table reading – or watch the series when it sells – to find out.

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Dr. Rosanne Welch at Broadcast Educators Association (BEA) 2022

Broadcast Educators Association (BEA) 2022

I attended my first Broadcast Educators Association (BEA) conference last weekend on the invite of Dr. Ed Fink, my former department chair, and greatly enjoyed hosting a pitchathon for graduation bachelor students interested in creating their own television shows. 

My co-panelists included two fun colleagues who have become good friends  –  Jon Vandergriff (Stephens College) and David Morgassen (CSUF).  We gave feedback on 9 different pitches and followed it up with a Q&A about the world of being a professional writer.  The audience was so interested and engaged that after our session ended, we all grabbed a table together and kept talking until we closed the venue down for the night.

Dr. Rosanne Welch at Broadcast Educators Association (BEA) 2022

Meeting potential MFA candidates is one reason to attend events like this one – but mostly it’s to make new friends in the academic world and strengthen the friendships you’ve already created; to learn how they approach the teaching of screenwriting or media history and bring those ideas back to my own classrooms. 

On this trip, I met professors from Illinois and Michigan and reconnected with folks I’ve worked with at CSUF and elsewhere.  Having lunch and hashing over which films or television shows to teach and how to best help students learn to analyze these in order to improve their writing is the heart of such a conference.  Meeting the students and hearing their ideas is the icing on the cake.

Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting

Screenwriter Clara Beranger – From Silents to Talkies to Teaching – Dr. Rosanne Welch, Script Magazine, April 2022

Screenwriter Clara Beranger - From Silents to Talkies to Teaching - Dr. Rosanne Welch, Script Magazine, April 2022

 

As with several silent film screenwriters, earlier careers in journalism and playwriting during the 1910s brought Clara Beranger to Hollywood. She would amass 85 credits between 1913 and 1934, bridging the worlds of silent and sound films.

Born Clara Strouse in Baltimore, Maryland on January 14, 1886, to a department store dynasty, she graduated in 1907 as a Phi Beta Kappa at Goucher College. She gained her professional surname when she married Albert Berwanger and kept it (except for the ‘w’) after their divorce. They had one child, a daughter named Frances, in 1909.

Read Screenwriter Clara Beranger – From Silents to Talkies to Teaching


Read about more women from early Hollywood

 

Ranking TV Shows by Percentage of Female Writers

Ranking TV Shows by Percentage of Female Writers

What wonderful work journalist Hope Lasater did for BuzzFeed in ranking 50 famous TV shows, from fewest to most episodes written by women. Episodes co-written by a woman and episodes with a woman on a “story by” credit were counted. I Love Lucy ranks 1st with 95% written by a woman – most all the work of the marvelous Madeline Pugh.  Other shows that are fun to see on the list are The Mary Tyler Moore Show (since I was able to interview Treva Silverman for my book on The Monkees so we also talked about the 2 Emmy Awards she won while writing on the MTM show).  See how your favorite TV shows past and present ranked (or if they made the list at all). – Rosanne

Here are 50 famous TV shows, ranked from fewest to most episodes written by women.
Episodes co-written by a woman and episodes with a woman on a “story by” credit are being counted.

Read 50 Famous TV Shows Ranked By What Percentage Of Their Episodes Were Written By Women

Women’s Stories Matter – and Earn Awards

Women’s Stories Matter – and Earn Awards

Sian Heder reminded us how hard it is to be both a writer/artist AND a Mom – but we do it anyway — So do it anyway.

AND she won 2 major awards for a film about a young woman chasing a dream. That has happened only 3 other times in Oscar history (for Gigi, West Side Story, My Fair Lady – all musicals). Don’t let them tell you female stories aren’t powerful enough to earn awards – or audiences.

Women’s Stories Matter – and Earn Awards

Hope Loring – Winging Her Way to the First Oscar Win – Dr. Rosanne Welch, Script Magazine, March 2022

Hope Loring - Winging Her Way to the First Oscar Win - Dr. Rosanne Welch, Script Magazine, March 2022

Hope Loring co-wrote Wings (1927), the first film ever to win the Academy Award for Best Film at the inaugural ceremonies in 1927. The story of World War I fighter pilots involved in a love triangle starred Clara Bow and is the first on-screen appearance of a young Gary Cooper.

Born in Barcelona, Spain (or maybe Madrid) in 1894 Loring had moved to England at the age of 2 to live with an aunt after her parents died in a car accident. At the age of five, the aunt moved her to the United States where she studied dance and literature at various boarding schools. At 14 Loring sold her first short story to a magazine. She reported that she had come to Los Angeles by 1916 after stints as an extra in New York and drama critic in Florida.

Read Hope Loring – Winging Her Way to the First Oscar Win


Read about more women from early Hollywood


Dr. Rosanne Welch Guests on Women in Film & Video DC Oscar Panel Podcast [Audio]

60854458c4d1acdf4e1c2f79c4137142d85d78e379bdafbd69bd34c85f5819adAs a warm-up to the upcoming Oscar ceremony, the Women in Film DC podcast invited me in my position as Executive Director of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting to a panel discussion about the women who have won Oscars from the beginning of the famed award ceremony. Having watched most of the ceremonies from the time I sat in front of the TV in my grandparents’ house cross-legged and begged to stay up past 11pm on a Sunday/school night, I had plenty of information.  Then, as editor of When Women Wrote Hollywood I had the chance to talk about the many female screenwriters whose names aren’t well known, but who wrote or otherwise contributed to films from Queen Christina (Salka Viertel) to It’s a Wonderful Life (Frances Hackett) to The Piano (Jane Campion).

Listen to this podcast

Women in Film & Video DC

From Media & Monuments

Topics that come up include women’s writers penchant for using their art for social justice, how the rise of the studio-as-factory system affected female employment, and how will streaming services change what films can be made – and can be nominated. I hope you enjoy the listen:

Ahead of the 94th Academy Awards on March 27, 2022, board member Sandra Abrams sits down with two amazing women to discuss Oscar’s history on nominations of women in non-actor categories. Our guests are Dr. Rosanne Welch, Executive Director of the MFA in TV and Screenwriting Program at Stephens College, and Leslie Combemale, a syndicated film critic known as Cinema Siren, and the creator and host of WomenRockingHollywood – an annual panel at Comic Con in San Diego which highlights female filmmakers. The women reflect on female representation throughout Hollywood’s and the awards show’s history, how it has changed, and what they see for the future.

For more Oscar information

Dr. Rosanne Welch

Leslie Combemale: https://cinemasiren.com/ and https://lesliecombemale.com/ and https://womenrockinghollywood.com/