Written By April | May 2012 : Page 8

WRITERS ’ ROOM Drama Queen JoRdAnA MoLLIck PRovIdes A venue foR scReenwRIteRs: the theAter. W hen Jordana Mollick, a development executive turned writers’ manager, moved from New York to Los Ange-les three years ago, she saw friends and clients sell scripts, get paid to write them, and even attract industry buzz along the way. But hearing moans about a development pro-cess so drawn-out and “soul-sucking,” as Mollick puts it, that writers were not see-ing their work produced, she hit upon the idea for Unscreened, an evening of four mini-plays, written by screenwriters. Teaming with Firefly: Theater & Films founder Steven Klein, Mollick—a partner in the Black Sheep Entertainment produc-tion company—helped develop the plays. Then the pair mounted them in February and March 2011 for an eight-week run at West Hollywood’s Zephyr Theatre. The show sold out, as it did again this year at the larger Lillian Theatre, with works by four different screenwriters. “This has been a collaborative process of people who really have a desire to take things in their own hands and take a risk,” says Mollick. That risk is paying off: Leslye Headland’s 2011 T*TS is being work-shopped to full-length; Emily Halpern’s Prometheus, No! is morphing into a short movie; Beth Schacter is adapting her Turned Out for TV ; and Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz’s Life Partners is in the works as a feature at the 2012 Sundance Lab. “It’s easy to, like, dwindle in this high-paid middle level, when you’re in the Writers Guild, getting paid Writers Guild rates to write, but you’re not feeling fulfilled,” says Fogel. “It’s important to know that you can do something like this that can be more rewarding than the jobs that are announced in Variety but ulti-mately never get made.” Aside from offering frustrated scribes an opportunity to show friends and family that they really are writers, Klein and Mollick hoped from the beginning for a second life beyond the boards for these plays. “Some of our earlier favorite TV stuff—Lucille Ball and Bob Newhart—was developed live,” Klein says. “The idea that we could be developing either some small or big screen ideas is exciting.” Writers for 2012 were Anna Chris-topher, Dahvi Waller, Michelle Mor-gan, and John Whittington. Material ranged from Mad Men and Desperate Housewives writer Waller’s “Between Movements,” set at Disney Hall, to Whittington’s “Cold Feet,” about strangers meeting in a park. “I’m at a point where it’s detri-mental for me mentally to even think about something being a movie, because there are so many things past the state of the script that have to fall into place,” says Whittington, who has written a TV pilot, had his first screenplay optioned, and is now writing a Cyrano-theme college comedy for Hunger Games ’ Nina Jacobsen and Gary Ross. “With Unscreened, it was really attractive to see my writing performed for the first time since I was in film school at NYU.” Now Klein and Mollick are about to start looking at play ideas and talking to a new group of writers for 2013. Cautions Mollick: “We don’t want to reach a point where the writers feel they’re being forced to write something that would make a great movie or a great TV show, because it’s either going to organically hap-pen, or it’s not.” —LOUiSe FArr Table Re ad Fat, Drunk, & Stupid: books from our library The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House By Matty SiMMonS | St. Martin’s Press “the day after I read the latest script, I sat in the office with the pages on my desk in front of me. doug [ken-ney] strolled in, looked at the script. I just nodded. He smiled and left. chris [Miller] has told me that the three of them wrote the script on what he called ‘marijuana production.’ All three were longtime marijuana devo-tees and seemed to do their best work with a joint in one hand and the other hand on the typewriter keys. their method of collaboration involved the occasional get-together, but they also worked on their own, each taking a section, coming up with a rough draft, and then turning it over to the others, so the scenes involved would go back and forth, until everyone had a whack at it and everybody was satisfied with it.” 8 • WG A W Written By APRIL/MA Y 20 12

Writers’ Room

Drama Queen

JoRdAnA MoLLIck ProvIdes A venue foR scReenwRIteRs: the theAter.

When Jordana Mollick, a development executive turned writers’ manager, moved from New York to Los Angeles three years ago, she saw friends and clients sell scripts, get paid to write them, and even attract industry buzz along the way. But hearing moans about a development process so drawn-out and “soul-sucking,” as Mollick puts it, that writers were not seeing their work produced, she hit upon the idea for Unscreened, an evening of four mini-plays, written by screenwriters.

Teaming with Firefly: Theater & Films founder Steven Klein, Mollick—a partner in the Black Sheep Entertainment production company—helped develop the plays. Then the pair mounted them in February and March 2011 for an eight-week run at West Hollywood’s Zephyr Theatre. The show sold out, as it did again this year at the larger Lillian Theatre, with works by four different screenwriters. “This has been a collaborative process of people who really have a desire to take things in their own hands and take a risk,” says Mollick.

That risk is paying off: Leslye Headland’s 2011 T*TS is being work-shopped to full-length; Emily Halpern’s Prometheus, No! Is morphing into a short movie; Beth Schacter is adapting her Turned Out for TV; and Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz’s Life Partners is in the works as a feature at the 2012 Sundance Lab.

“It’s easy to, like, dwindle in this high-paid middle level, when you’re in the Writers Guild, getting paid Writers Guild rates to write, but you’re not feeling fulfilled,” says Fogel. “It’s important to know that you can do something like this that can be more rewarding than the jobs that are announced in Variety but ultimately never get made.”

Aside from offering frustrated scribes an opportunity to show friends and family that they really are writers, Klein and Mollick hoped from the beginning for a second life beyond the boards for these plays. “Some of our earlier favorite TV stuff—Lucille Ball and Bob Newhart—was developed live,” Klein says. “The idea that we could be developing either some small or big screen ideas is exciting.”

Writers for 2012 were Anna Christopher, Dahvi Waller, Michelle Morgan, and John Whittington. Material ranged from Mad Men and Desperate Housewives writer Waller’s “Between Movements,” set at Disney Hall, to Whittington’s “Cold Feet,” about strangers meeting in a park.

“I’m at a point where it’s detrimental for me mentally to even think about something being a movie, because there are so many things past the state of the script that have to fall into place,” says Whittington, who has written a TV pilot, had his first screenplay optioned, and is now writing a Cyrano-theme college comedy for Hunger Games’ Nina Jacobsen and Gary Ross. “With Unscreened, it was really attractive to see my writing performed for the first time since I was in film school at NYU.”

Now Klein and Mollick are about to start looking at play ideas and talking to a new group of writers for 2013. Cautions Mollick: “We don’t want to reach a point where the writers feel they’re being forced to write something that would make a great movie or a great TV show, because it’s either going to organically happen, or it’s not.”

—LOUiSe FArr

Table Read

books from our library

Fat, Drunk, & Stupid:

The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House

By Matty SiMMonS | St. Martin’s Press

“The day after I read the latest script, I sat in the office with the pages on my desk in front of me. Doug [kenney] strolled in, looked at the script. I just nodded. He smiled and left. Chris [Miller] has told me that the three of them wrote the script on what he called ‘marijuana production.’ All three were longtime marijuana devotees and seemed to do their best work with a joint in one hand and the other hand on the typewriter keys.Their method of collaboration involved the occasional get-together, but they also worked on their own, each taking a section, coming up with a rough draft, and then turning it over to the others, so the scenes involved would go back and forth, until everyone had a whack at it and everybody was satisfied with it.”

Curating Television

The Paley Center for Media ventures Out of the Box

In the early episodes of the second season of the HBO western Deadwood, Al Swearengen, the show’s paternal heart, comes into possession of the severed head of a Sioux warrior. The head is an essential part of the show’s narrative history, as it provides Al with ample opportunity to soliloquize throughout the season. That’s right: He talks to the head. Chats with it. Bounces ideas off it.

Right now, that head, along with the box in which Al stored it, is at the corner of Santa Monica and Beverly Drive.

It’s part of the Paley Center for Media’s latest exhibit, Television: Out of the Box, curated by Warner Bros., which loaned the items on display from the hidden archive (not even the exhibit’s docents know where it is).

The display is a collection of items from a diverse array of shows produced by WB and HBO (its TimeWarner sister), spanning a range of genres from television’s early days until today. On entering, a visitor might think he’s viewing a costume exhibit; to be sure, costumes comprise a substantial percentage of Out of the Box. Many simply serve as character identifiers, such as Drew Carey’s iconic horn-rimmed glasses or one of Charlie Harper’s bowling shirts from Two and a Half Men. A Vorlon—an alien from Babylon 5—greets exhibitgoers, all helmet and draping fabric and robot eyes.

But Out of the Box goes beyond a simple fashion show; many of the costumes on display are more than just dressing for the actors— they’re part of a greater story, like George Costanza’s Gore- Tex coat from the Seinfeld episode “The Dinner Party,” or the bathrobe that characterized Tony Soprano in his pilot episode, or the lizard masks the aliens wore in V (under their human masks, that is). There’s a lot of design acumen on display, but more important, there’s a lot of script-to-screen magic: When Larry David wrote “The Dinner Party,” he wrote a ridiculous coat into the script, and now that coat is at the Paley Center’s exhibit.

And while there’s plenty else of interest to writers—including the extensive “Roommate Agreement” from The Big Bang Theory and a crystal decanter full of faux vampire guts representing the dead lover of True Blood villain Russell Edgington—the most totemic of items on display might be a typewriter that The Waltons creator Earl Hamner Jr. Bought after World War II. Hamner wrote some of his earliest scripts for radio and television on that old machine, and it led to a career that lasted half a century. The 100th Waltons script sits nearby, and scripts for other shows are scattered throughout the exhibit.

The small exhibit is a TV nut’s dream, even without considering the narrative significance of the individual pieces. From the napkin scrawled with bartlet for america (from The West Wing) to the full Green Arrow costume (from Smallville), it’s a window into another world.

Oh, and there’s also an actual window into another world. It’s a prop from Fringe.

Television: Out of the Box runs through 2015, and new items will be added periodically.

—KeVin Ott

Details: $10 Adults | $8 Seniors/Students | $5 Children (under 13) Paley Center Members 20% discount on admission Open Wednesdays through Sundays noon to 5 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday

Read the full article at http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/article/Writers%E2%80%99+Room/1030123/107458/article.html.

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