09 More on Stephen J. Cannell from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

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09 More on Stephen J. Cannell from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

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When the folks hosting the conference announced their theme as “Screen Narratives: Chaos and Order” the word ‘chaos’ immediately brought to mind writers rooms. I offered a quick history of writers rooms (the presentations are only 20 minutes long) and then quoted several current showrunners on how they compose their rooms and how they run them.

Transcript

I was able to interview a certain set of these men — actually, Stephen Cannell in the year before he died — to talk about their time at Universal and the transition from this pool into their own rooms and how they would comprise those rooms. again, all these men that I just mentioned are famous because of what they came up with. Cannel is someone we know from many action-adventure television shows. When he passed away the show, Castle, which was big in the United States — the men who worked on that show had been in his writer’s pools early in their career. So, he was famous for this ending on his show where he would type in the typewriter and pull the paper out — that was his brand. At the end of this show, Castle, which he did not work on. they gave this — colleague, mentor, friend ending — in tribute to him. So that’s how important he was to their careers. They learned how to run their own rooms from working with him. These are all the shows that we know him from at some point or another. So he’s certainly a man with a very distinct style that stood out for a long time.

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08 Stephen J. Cannell and Adam-12 from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

With the full recording of “How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television”

08 Stephen J. Cannell and Adam-12 from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

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When the folks hosting the conference announced their theme as “Screen Narratives: Chaos and Order” the word ‘chaos’ immediately brought to mind writers rooms. I offered a quick history of writers rooms (the presentations are only 20 minutes long) and then quoted several current showrunners on how they compose their rooms and how they run them.

Transcript

Stephen Cannell — who’s the first person I worked for as an assistant — they tell a great story when he was in the writer’s pool Universal. They came in for this show, Adam-12, they said we need an idea for the show. Who wants to write one and the first thing that came to him was — they’re policemen who rode around in a squad car all day — and his unique idea was, what if they got the squad car that was misbehaving — that had engine trouble and a flat tire and everything went wrong with the car. So the whole episode was about these men managing the tool of their job more than managing what the crime of the week was and that stood out in people’s minds. He was using the formula in a different way and that started to make people pay attention to him. So that he could leave and do other things.

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07 The Writer’s Voice from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

With the full recording of “How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television”

Srn port07 The Writer's Voice from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

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When the folks hosting the conference announced their theme as “Screen Narratives: Chaos and Order” the word ‘chaos’ immediately brought to mind writers rooms. I offered a quick history of writers rooms (the presentations are only 20 minutes long) and then quoted several current showrunners on how they compose their rooms and how they run them.

Transcript

And I think that’s where we started to learn that, particularly in television, you had to find people with a defined voice and that is something you could build a show around and so when I define voice everyone has a slightly different concept but to me, it’s a simple matter of your opinion and the style in which you deliver it and that tells us your different voice and I think some of the shows I’m going to mention — it’s very clear they have very unique voices and that’s where they come from. So we started to recognize that the idea of the creator and television was the writer and that person should run the entire show themselves and should begin to gather about them a group of people who could mimic their voice while still keeping their own. That was the difficult job of television which is also still a difficult thing to teach students to write a spec script that sounds like, but doesn’t obliterate, your own voice, and that’s what you’re trying to do in the room, which again, is more chaotic than I would say.

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06 The Universal Studios Writers Pool from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

With the full recording of “How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television”

06 The Universal Studios Writers Pool from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

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

 

 

When the folks hosting the conference announced their theme as “Screen Narratives: Chaos and Order” the word ‘chaos’ immediately brought to mind writers rooms. I offered a quick history of writers rooms (the presentations are only 20 minutes long) and then quoted several current showrunners on how they compose their rooms and how they run them.

Transcript

But one-hour dramas did not involve writer’s rooms in the beginning and I find that very fascinating because we rely on them now, but they did not in fact — they literally had writer pools and if you were running a show — so you were the creator of the show — you would walk down the hallway to the pool, of course, that’s the typing pool, and it was a bunch of guys not too many women involved at that time and you would say I need an episode of Columbo. Who’s free this week and that person would have to come up with an episode of Columbo. The NBC Mystery Movie was a perfect example of that because every Sunday there was a different one of these shows. They weren’t a weekly show and so you had some time to prepare it. So you’d walk down the street and say I don’t know which of these shows would we need this next week and that’s — so writer’s rooms took freelance ideas and you didn’t sit in the room and break the story together and that has been something that’s evolved over time I think is interesting. In this writer’s pool at Universal, which contributed to that show, were all these men who became the show runners of the second golden age of television and they all are men whose shows have run on television incessantly.

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Dr. Rosanne Welch Presents “Female Creatives & A Star Is Born” [Video]

Dr. Rosanne Welch Presents

Connections at conferences matter! Through the most recent SCMS, I met Vicki Callahan, whose film history focus right now is on Mabel Normand. When she learned I could put together a lecture on the importance of the female voice in the A Star is Born franchise she asked me to give that lecture to her master students.

It made for a great opportunity for me to hone the ideas I’m working on for a chapter on that franchise that I’m writing for a new book from Bloomsbury: The Bloomsbury Handbook Of International Screenplay Theory. It’s always nice when one piece of research can be purposed in other ways – and it’s always fun revisiting such a female-centric film franchise – one that drew the talents of such powerful performers as Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, and Lady Gaga.

Find out why in this lecture!

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05 The Monkees Writer’s Room from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

With the full recording of “How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television”

05 The Monkees Writer's Room from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

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When the folks hosting the conference announced their theme as “Screen Narratives: Chaos and Order” the word ‘chaos’ immediately brought to mind writers rooms. I offered a quick history of writers rooms (the presentations are only 20 minutes long) and then quoted several current showrunners on how they compose their rooms and how they run them.

Transcript

I did a whole book on The Monkees and they had one of the first writer’s rooms in a sort of a kid’s show sitcom and so I had the chance to meet with and interview all these writers back in about three years ago who were all in their late 70s and so heard about their stories of how the room operated. It was very important to have a female. It was the first sitcom that had a femle on staff and so she added a perspective. So it started the idea that we need inclusion in our rooms. We need to hear all the different perspectives. I thought that was pretty cool. So that’s the book and the article that I wrote for Written By.

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Dr. Rosanne Welch Presents “When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories” at SCMS 2021 [Video]

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle.  As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021.  That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present:  Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator. 

Here you can watch my part of the presentation,

“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”

Dr. Rosanne Welch Presents

 

Our intrepid panel leader, Christina Lane (author of Phantom Lady – the new biography of writer-producer Joan Harrison) kept us connected across the time.  Other panel participants included Philana Payton (UCLA) who is researching the memoirs of Eartha Kitt and Vicki Callahan (USC) who covered the career of Mabel Normand.  I was happy to highlight the many female screenwriters whose histories were left on the cutting room floor thanks to the unreliable narrators of their work who included directors, film reviewers, and husbands – all who left the female writers out of their own memories.


V14 Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator

Chair: Christina Lane, University of Miami

Co-Chair: Vicki Callahan, University of Southern California

Vicki Callahan, University of Southern California, “Still Looking for Mabel Normand”
Philana Payton, University of Southern California, “Eartha Kitt vs. Eartha Mae: Black Women, Self-Fragmentation, and the Politics of Hollywood Stardom”
Rosanne Welch, Stephens College, “When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”
Christina Lane, University of Miami, “Alternative Writing Strategies: Notes on Discovering the ‘Women Who Knew’ Joan Harrison”

Dr. Rosanne Welch Presents

04 The Comedy Writer’s Room from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

With the full recording of “How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television”

04 The Comedy Writer's Room from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

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

 

 

When the folks hosting the conference announced their theme as “Screen Narratives: Chaos and Order” the word ‘chaos’ immediately brought to mind writers rooms. I offered a quick history of writers rooms (the presentations are only 20 minutes long) and then quoted several current showrunners on how they compose their rooms and how they run them.

Transcript

In terms of the history of writer’s rooms, comedy always sort of had them and we know that going back into the early days of the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. He had a team of writers including his brother who worked with him. So comedy always knew that it needed a group. It was as if they knew the sitcom was an outgrowth of standup comedy or those vaudeville acts they had all been in. Of course, we love The Dick Van Dyke Show taught many people in America — many females in America — you could write for television because there was a female character writing of television, right, in the ’60s. So that taught us we had a place in this business which is a good thing. Neil Simon worked in early TV comedy shows and so he then glamourized that in his play so that’s a way that people learn about writer’s rooms. They see it operate and this was a room that included very famous men. Larry Gelbart who did M*A*S*H. Woody Allen who we can say other things about these days.

For more information on the Screenwriting Research Network, visit

Screenwriting Research Network Conference, Porto, Portugal, All Sessions


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** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

03 Managed Chaos from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

With the full recording of “How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television”

03 Manage Chaos from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

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

 

 

When the folks hosting the conference announced their theme as “Screen Narratives: Chaos and Order” the word ‘chaos’ immediately brought to mind writers rooms. I offered a quick history of writers rooms (the presentations are only 20 minutes long) and then quoted several current showrunners on how they compose their rooms and how they run them.

Transcript

So that’s kind of my philosophy. I really don’t like the auteur theory and neither do a lot of other writers. This particular quote comes to us from the gentleman who gave us, in America, Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan. So I want to talk about writer’s rooms and his is considered one of the most organized so perhaps the less chaotic but still what happens in the room has its own form of chaos. So I think it’s really interesting that he is willing to defend the idea that writers are more important than directors. He’s certainly got an Emmy to prove he’s an important writer but I appreciate very much what he had to say. The room is about making people as comfortable as possible and this can be a difficult task but it’s the task of the executive producer or the showrunner to make sure that the people in the room are open to sharing as many of their interesting ideas as possible right? So chaos but managed chaos. You have to allow for much conversation but you’re the one managing what’s being said so you don’t run off on a tangent and of course Vince was brilliant at that.

For more information on the Screenwriting Research Network, visit

Screenwriting Research Network Conference, Porto, Portugal, All Sessions


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* 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!

A Big Thank You For World Book Day!

In honor of World Book Day I wanted to say thanks to all the Readers of all my books -- and to all the Librarians who have purchased books to be read!  What would we do without librarians and libraries?  Writers need them for our research and readers need them as homes away from home.  I can't count the summer days I spent in the local library gathering a cart of books to take home and read. As an only child, books were my summer companions.  Now it's amazing to me to think books with my name on them sit on shelves beside all the ones I loved.  
Read a book today to celebrate a Happy World Book Day!

In honor of World Book Day I wanted to say thanks to all the Readers of all my books — and to all the Librarians who have purchased books to be read!

What would we do without librarians and libraries?  Writers need them for our research and readers need them as homes away from home.  I can’t count the summer days I spent in the local library gathering a cart of books to take home and read. As an only child, books were my summer companions.  Now it’s amazing to me to think books with my name on them sit on shelves beside all the ones I loved.  

Read a book today to celebrate a Happy World Book Day! 

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