ConStar Clicks

I’ve been on hiatus (not really on purpose, just life and work getting in the way), but sometimes I still collect links for ConStar Clicks and then never post them because I either have too few or no time. Here are some links I’ve accumulated during this sorta hiatus. More Clicks coming soon (for real, there’s already a draft for next week’s!).

How Does an Aspiring TV Writer Get Discovered by an Agent? [Splitsider]

Search for a story that is meaningful to you, and excavate the depths of your imagination — what have you dreamed about writing, what do you wish you could watch? It doesn’t have to be a pilot, even. Is there an indie movie idea you’re dying to get out?

Basically, write what you want to write, no matter how wacky or unconventional, because agents will see the potential of it and it could get you work. Definitely something I needed to hear. Lesson of the day: Write it anyway.

Two articles on TV Staffing season (which has passed for this year, but is always useful for next spring!)

I’ve applied to three writing fellowships this year (!!). As notification season quickly approaches, this article was a very helpful read. Cross your fingers for me guys!

 

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ConStar Clicks: anatomy of shows via Wrong Hands

It’s been awhile hasn’t it? Peeking out of a sort of hiatus (life stuff and new jobs and exhaustion and no new TV…)  to share this image I saw today. Made me chuckle but it’s also true. As a TV structure junkie who is trying to write specs, this is both funny and useful because you can see how broad structure is across different genres.

Click through to see more of John Atkinson’s comics: anatomy of shows | Wrong Hands.

#ConStarClicks: Learn to Talk Like a TV Writer [GQ]

ConStar Clicks: Learn to Talk Like a TV Writer – GQ

True ConStar Clicks posts are returning in June (if all goes according to plan) but here’s a cool article I’ve been reading (and memorizing) about words TV writers often use in the process of putting an episode together. It seems to be mostly focusing on TV comedy jargon.

Some of my favorites from the piece:

  • Button – I prefer button to blow.
  • Chuffa
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Hanging a Lantern – I learned this on TV Tropes. If you’ve read my About Me, you know I love me some TV Tropes.
  • Schmuck Bait

Click through to find out what they mean.

ConStar Clicks

Here are some cool links I’ve come across since we last met up for these Clicks.

Ξ Who doesn’t love Ava DuVernay? Here’s the Selma director at South by Southwest giving a Keynote speech which featured many wonderful pieces of advice. Watch the whole thing but Indiewire conveniently compiled a list of some of the awesome things she said. Among my favorites:

  • “If your dream only includes you, it’s too small.”
  • the principal goal must be to serve the story.
  • the Oscars are, simply, “a room in L.A.” “It’s cool, it’s very cool,” she says of the Academy’s recognition. “But my work’s worth is not based on what happens in, around, for or about that room.”

Ξ I’m obsessed with MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) personality tests, especially when it comes to guessing TV character types. While there are tons of people who denounce it for not being science, I think it more accurately describes you based on what you are actually like more than say, a horoscope, where you may or may not match to the traits of someone born in your season or whatever. So when I saw this Myers-Briggs TV Personality Test over on Vulture, I was upset I hadn’t actually thought of it! My friend and I spent maybe 2+ hours thinking of questions they could have added (which dissolved into a ‘How Obsessed with TV Are You’ Game Show), but on the surface it’s pretty cool. I got CSMH (Comedy, Serialized, Mainstream, Highbrow), but I think I could have gotten Drama, Serialized, Cult, Highbrow as well, considering what I watch (basically comedies and superhero dramas). Take the test and find out what you are, then let’s debate if that’s actually correct.

Ξ I really like this Fiction Diversity essay by Em Liu who talks about how sitcoms can normalized family dynamics on television. Starting with I Love Lucy to Will & Grace, she discusses how these shows presented different family dynamics than the ones viewers were used to. THe article was written with regard to Selfie, but she shared on Twitter as she felt it was appropriate to the campaign to ensure Fresh Off the Boat gained a second season.

Ξ This Vulture article discusses the rampant trend of rebooting old TV series rather than coming up with new ones. It talks about how reviving an existing series creates instant buzz on social media, which can provide for higher ratings and interest when the show premieres, as opposed to many new shows that premiere to abysmal numbers. (Unless you’re Empire or Fresh Off the Boat or blackish or How to Get Away with Murder, all of which had pretty decent or juggernaut ratings—wait, could it be that we need more PoC produced series to get those premiere ratings boosts they’re talking about?! Golly gee, let’s try that!) For me, if we’re gonna do this, I like the idea of continuing where the old show left off, just years later, rather than creating it with different actors. I hope there are at least more shows by PoC producers/writers than are reboots next year. ::crosses fingers::

“This is still a business where 90 percent of it is original.” For now, at least.

Ξ Two Boston University alum, Mike DiCenzo and Arthur Meyer, are on the writing staff for the Tonight Show and they spoke to BU Today about what it’s like to write for the show. I’m no comedy/stand up writer, but I love The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. As Arthur says,

“It’s a very sincere show, a positive show,” says Meyer. “It’s not steeped in sarcasm. It celebrates more than it takes down.”

These are the things I love about the show. While being a TV writer is hard and challenging and daunting to think about, being a sketch/stand-up comedy writer sounds even more frightening.

The job requires a thick skin: Meyer estimates that while he writes about 25 or 30 jokes a week, only about one actually makes it on the air.

I’ll stick to trying to write narrative stories, thanks.

Ξ And finally:

 

This is probably true. Until next time, clickers!

ConStar Clicks

Welcome to this week’s (slightly delayed) clicks! Let me know which articles you’ve been reading. And if you have any suggestions for links to share, leave a comment or shoot me a tweet! Let’s jump right in!

Belafonte and Clarke Interracial Touching TV

This was a controversy in 1968. For context, it happens a month before MLK is assassinated.

This Huffington Post article goes through a few major landmarks in black television. From Amos and Andy‘s outrageous stereotypes to the present day where a black woman is a president on TV (for however long State of Affairs manages to sustain itself). That in and of itself is cool for those who didn’t know about these shows and their legacies, but this quote really stood out to me:

Such a torrid romance [re: Scandal’s Fitz/Olivia] marks a head-spinning change from 1968, when, during the taping of a duet for her NBC special, British pop singer Petula Clark clasped the arm of Harry Belafonte, the beloved calypso star and social activist. It was a gesture that spurred the sponsor, Chrysler, to demand this instance of “interracial touching” be edited out.

The emphasis is mine, because wow! I know that there were such strict rules on television back then (I mean, Lucy couldn’t even say she was pregnant with a baby she got by sleeping in the bed next to her husbands!), but for the sponsor to want an arm touch edited out…! Seems so silly. “Interracial touching.” Tch!

Also:

In a few cases, in the weeks following the incident, as at CBS, there were directives from on high to writers, producers, directors, and studio programing heads instructing them “to intensify immediately the portrayal and use and actual number of Negroes in entertainment programs.” [x]

Uhm, can we get CBS to have a similar “intensification?”

♥ I shared a piece by this author, Eric Haywood, last week about banning the word “aspiring” from your vocabulary as a writer. This time, I’ve found another bit of searing Haywood advice: “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” The article is about having work ready to show someone always, at a moment’s notice. I am still working on having one thing finished, much less a constant flow of work-in-progresses, but it’s still important advice that I need to let marinate. Because as a writer, I should never be done writing. There are times when I am “finished” and something is ready to go off into the world (again, still working on that part), but then I should already be on the next thing. As it is, I do have a backlog of ideas for certain things, they’re just, unfortunately, not all TV shows, aka the medium I want to work in. “But that means you should already have a current piece of submission-ready material available at a moment’s notice.” As a chronic procrastinator who often needs deadlines to work, I need to work on “staying ready” more than “I can do it later if you tell me when it’s due.” Writer!Connie still has a lot of work to do.

Also this was great advice for all of us writers, no matter the field:

“In the age of smartphones and cloud computing, there is absolutely no reason for you to ever leave home without a PDF of your latest writing sample just a few thumb-clicks away. Not ever. Period. Let me repeat that being prepared is no automatic guarantee of success.”

♥ I was going to share this article on the end of TV shows we love, and I technically still am, but once I read this line, I immediately disliked it: “It can be argued that a show like Friends never jumped the shark, but I would argue that happened some time between when Ross and Rachel first broke up to when Monica and Chandler got together.” NOPE. The Monica/Chandler arc was the best thing to happen to Friends. You can’t jump the shark then UN-jump it, unless this author just thinks that everything that happened after season 2 was awful? Which is utterly ridiculous. Aside from overuse of the phrase “jumping the shark,” I do agree that shows end for a reason and sometimes it is before we want them to, but that’s just so they don’t end after we hate them. Ugh, that Friends blasphemy just riled me up! (Blasphemy, another word I think I should probably stop overusing…)

♥ This article, “What is a Universal Story Anyway,” is fantastic with regard to discussing what “universal” means and how it silences so many stories. I’ve plucked out some great quotes. Please check out the entire piece because I never thought about the term “universal” in such a way.  My favorite quote, “It’s not our job to cater to the lowest common denominator. It’s our job to raise,” (from The West Wing) definitely fits in with the jist of this piece.

“It’s hard to tell your own story to a broad audience, when you have been deemed “other” from birth.”

“[T]his new shift offers a glimpse into what media might look like if it had always been this way, if “universal” were defined in someone else’s favor.”

“The definition of “universal” is owned by those whose stories have already been told—and told with complexity. Writers who lie outside of this boundary are pressured to adopt the same stories, the same language, used and approved by others. Readers who have never seen themselves reflected back are expected to continue not existing. Using “universal” to enforce only makes our stories narrower, but using it as an opportunity to explore the lives of others, so unlike our own, takes back the term and gives it the meaning it’s meant to have.”

♥ As January passes us by, February into spring means the peak of pilot season! Shows are being picked up for pilots, names are being attached to projects, and soon enough, production will begin on the slate of offerings for the 2015-2016 season (already!?!). Between the midseason premieres, summer limited series, and the onslaught of Netflix/Hulu/Amazon shows we’re expecting, this is a list of a few nerd-friendly TV shows that are coming this year so far.

What are you looking forward to watching?

ConStar Clicks

gina rodriguez golden globes speech

Preach it, Gina!

Award season is here and after last Sunday’s Golden Globes and this week’s Oscar nominations, a lot of the articles going around have to do with the severe lack of diversity in Hollywood. Here are just a few (from before Oscar noms were announced — they didn’t change the conversation much anyway) articles on the diversity deficit.

This USA Today article talks a lot about the lack of diversity in Into the Woods and other fictional pieces, but also delves into the excuses made when diverse actors aren’t considered for roles and how even with a PoC director on a film or showrunner on a TV show, it’s still hard to achieve the diversity needed to match the actual demographics of this country.

♠ Here’s an interview with Selma cinematographer Bradford Young in the Huffington Post on how the lack of diversity in the industry spreads beyond even the top roles we normally think about, the above the line players (actors, producers, directors, etc). Here he points out that the lack of diversity exists below the line too — he’s speaking primarily as a cinematographer, but it counts for editing and sound design and costumes and all the rest of the crew. Most of the Selma crew was not people of color. Hollywood sets and Hollywood Academy voters, neither represent the diversity of America.

♠But it’s not all bleak, the Golden Globes honored my most recent fave Gina Rodriguez with a best actress in a comedy win — I literally screamed when they said her name. Her speech was amazing (see top photo and the one below for quotes).

gina rodgriguez i can and i will

Gina is full of inspiring quotes! Click the photo for the full video.

If only other people in power were more like those at CBS/CW and Jane showrunner Jennie Urman who took a chance on Jane. See what it gets you? A new hit show and award nominations! The CW is on the map now, all because they went with a person of color. Others networks could benefit from the same choice.

♠ Shameless self promotion of the week: After the Globes, I felt my post on New Emmy Categories was especially relevant. Let’s be honest, there were some weird category combinations — shows like Jane the Virgin, Orange is the New Black, and Transparent all in the comedy category? Jane is pretty funny, OITNB has some humor, but I’ve never, ever gotten the impression that Transparent was a comedy/musical. (Chelsea Peretti tweeted something about how even comedy and musical aren’t even similar — though it was in true Chelsea Peretti fashion) Ads always lean towards serious. And these shows submit for comedy categories because the drama categories are over-saturated and straight comedies have no room! All of this would be resolved with a Dramedy category. More shows get more recognition. No? We don’t want that?

I love this article on Hitfix on how it’s a Golden Era for geeky TV shows because I watch a lot of these shows. As I explained last week when I talked about the “mid-reputable” TV shows article, a lot of the shows I watch tend to be sci-fi/fantasy/mystery (most of whom are never Emmy/Golden Globe contenders), so it’s great that there are more and more “mid-reputable” shows that happen to be SFF/mystery on network television. If I have to deal with a continuing lack of diversity, at least part of my geek soul is being fulfilled.

♠ In that same vein, here’s an article in Ad Week about The Flash and the other DC Comics shows on The CW (and mentions of Supergirl coming to CBS) and the way they are bringing life to television. The article goes through a bit of Marvel vs DC in terms of their known strengths: Marvel excels at movies, while DC excels at TV. This, to me, has always been true. I don’t know a lot about the comics themselves, but each creator has shown their live-action/animated strengths known since the 90s. Marvel had massive success with the Blade movies, the Spiderman movies, even the X-Men movies even before the current MCU revitalized the superhero blockbuster. In the TV-verse, DC was always better: besides the X-Men cartoon series, Marvel didn’t really have any standout cartoons in the 90s; compare to the different Batman and the Justice League cartoons and their incarnations. In live-action, I was always partial to Lois and Clark, the New Adventures of Superman, whose 90s cheese was absolutely perfect the era. And of course there was Smallville. It’s great that each company, Marvel and DC, are succeeding somewhere specifically. It just means everyone has somewhere to go to get their superhero fix.

And for a random take away from that same article: “Under Time Warner, DC is tied to a broadcaster (the CW), cable networks (Adult Swim, Cartoon, TBS, TNT) and, of course, the movie studio.” Just a random fact for when thinking of your favorite DC comics and what networks you could match them with (don’t forget CBS, as they own The CW). Remember, of course, that Marvel is owned by Disney, so when mentally pitching Marvel TV shows, stick to Disney owned nets (though now there’s Netflix getting in on the Marvel game).

♠ Finally, how do I combine the two main themes above, diversity and geekdom? Easy, with this article by Daniel Jose Older in The Guardian on the lack of people of color in fantasy fiction. “And while “urban” has become publishing industry code for books by and for black people, throw the word fantasy on the end and suddenly the characters and authors are very white.” The work of achieving diversity is still being labored at in all media.

Oof, these Clicks are long. Should they be shorter?

ConStar Clicks

Playhouse 90 TV Anthology

As a media studies major, one of the first things I learned in my television history class was that it started out as being simply televised plays* EDIT: or televised radio shows. TV scripts are called “teleplays” for a reason. A lot of early series are presented as one-act plays for the small screen, lots of anthology shows, where each episode was a different story. Philco Television Playhouse Teleplay AnthologyThe most famous, perhaps, might be The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents, both featuring mysterious, science-fiction, and horror/thriller type stories, but others were more explicit in their titles like Playhouse 90 (90 minute teleplays) and the Philco Television Playhouse. Both media are heavily focused on dialogue and character, with plot being often secondary. This article in The Atlantic on the trend of playwrights also writing for television and vice versa doesn’t talk as much about the history of early television plays as much as I would like, but it’s interesting the way things cycle back around.

 It’s been a minor struggle all of my life that the shows that I like don’t get major award recognition. This article over at the AV Club finally talks about this struggle. I watch “mid-reputable” television. I’m usually not interested in the prestige shows. The Mad Mens or the Homelands or the Boardwalk Empires. I gave Breaking Bad a shot, but I wasn’t as into it as everyone else. Recently, The Wire had a marathon on HBO, and I just didn’t feel like starting it. But the shows listed in this article: Sleepy Hollow (once I catch up and the show redeems itself), Jane the Virgin, Arrow, The Flash, etc (all genre shows you’ll notice) are more my jam. I spent my teens loving Charmed and Angel, Chuck, Pushing Daisies, Dollhouse and I still miss 30 Rock and need to find all the waffles to cope with the last season of Parks and Recreation. None of these shows were ever ratings darlings or big award winners. What do these shows get? They’re so often sidelined, “There’s less of a sense that TV buffs have to watch these shows to stay current,” and when they are nominated, it’s rare for them to get recognized a second time (I’m looking at you, Brooklyn Nine-Nine).

“Astute TV watchers may hope that Tatiana Maslany will get nominated for her work on Orphan Black, but they also know—or should, anyway—that it’s a longshot.”

— True, but it hurts, because she’s just as good — better even — than the usual players on the prestige dramas that always get nominated!

I think this line in the article is really important, as it reminds me that while the Emmy’s may not recognize my shows for awards, that it doesn’t really matter. “And if in the end we’re all more excited about a new episode of The Flash than The Affair, maybe that says something about what’s really the best that TV has to offer.” Because while there are plenty of shows that are ratings, awards, and critical hits, I think the middle-ground shows make people happier. You look forward to them more, they often have lighter or funnier storylines.  (Isn’t it a wonder that the awards that typically don’t get nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe Awards are often winners of People’s Choice Awards?) And that feeling of joy and excitement to watch your show is more important than how many awards it gets or if the big wigs over at the New Yorker or the Times think it’s “art.”

Which shows really deserve these beauties? Just the popular kids? Maybe we need participation trophies for the middle ground shows that are working just as hard. But I guess that’s the People’s Choice Awards…

Shameless plug: Here’s an article I wrote last year about New Emmy categories we need. It basically would get recognition for a lot of midlevel TV shows out there in the Dramedy, Procedural, and Scif-fi/Fantasy genres.

♦ Want to know when your shows are returning or premiering this winter? Here’s a full list thanks to THR. Make sure to input them into your calendars so you don’t miss mid-season premieres! I definitely suggest Agent Carter, which I enjoyed much more than I’ve ever enjoyed Agents of SHIELD.

♦ Finally, as I venture into my first writing project of the year (a post coming on that soon), I probably need an app like this presented by the AV Club, that doesn’t let you use the rest of your computer until you complete the goals you set. It’s easier to get around the time limit (by not writing) than the word count limit. Though I’m sure if I write WRITING IS SO HARD over and over, I’ll hit it in no time. I won’t even copy and paste.

EDIT: Maybe I will go through some old textbooks for more blog fodder…

ConStar Clicks

Happy new year! Start off the year with some cool articles I found last year (ok, like three days ago):

Abuela speaks Spanish to Jane, who speaks English back. The show makes no apologies for it’s subtitles.

In typical #Clicks fashion, I start off with a Jane the Virgin article. This one, by author Daniel Jose Older, praises Jane for being “unapologetically Latin” through it’s use of Spanish “without without issue or apology.” Older ends with this: “Art is at its best when it refuses to translate itself or cater to the lowest common denominator,” which, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see is similar to my favorite quote from The West Wing, “It’s not our job to cater to the lowest common denominator, it’s our job to raise it.” And of course he’s right. There’s a lot of talk about the global success of different genres of movie and TV shows. It’s something to think about when talking about how black films or POC centered TV shows do overseas, because a lot of times, those shows are given so many US-centered guidelines that of course they don’t do well overseas. They’re not authentic in their presentation. If black media, or Latino media were more like Jane the Virgin, “unapologetic” in the way they talk about and express their culture, they might do better overseas. People respond to truth and authenticity and can see through a false construct built by meddling executives who think they know how to sell any story, as long as it’s done their way.

This article at Refinery 29 is about the head of original content at Hulu, Beatrice Springborn. She actually started in TV pretty late, having started her career in Journalism out of school. Places like Hulu and Pixar (which she also worked for) are sort of like what it sounds like to work at a place like Google or Apple. Aka, sounds like a dream!

BGN blackish podcast

I’m co-hosting this podcast with Black Girl Nerds!

Fun fact: On Sunday at 7pm I will be co-hosting a podcast with the kids from the show blackish. I’m super excited, they’re such cute and talented kids! In this article, the author writes about how the blackish family resembles her own.

[M]e being wrapped up in kente cloth is a thing that happened.

It’s so important to have a black family back on television. I could be wrong, but wasn’t Everybody Hates Chris the last network TV show with a family? If not, it’s still been few and far between. ABC’s last black family was My Wife and Kids (right?) which ended in 2005. As the author mentions, she and many viewers see themselves in various parts of the Johnson family. Shared experiences from childhood or finally understanding where her parents’ mindset was coming from when they made the choices they did. But it’s not just important for adults to see themselves on TV (which is certainly is). It’s a show you can watch as a family and it represents differences in generation when it comes to all kinds of things, like technology and social media but also the obvious differences in dealing with race. The blackish kids give their kid viewers people to relate to (barring any future child star problems of course). Just as I looked up to Olivia from The Cosby Show as looking similar to me while also hanging out with her funny, jazz loving grandfather, kids today finally have some peers to look up to. I hope blackish inspires more black families on network television (remember that not every family has access to cable, even today), so that more kids (and adults like us of course) have more families like their own representing them on television.

It’s stated all the time that we’re in a “golden age” of television, where there is a lot of high quality content and things are changing and evolving dramatically. Ad Week went over 5 ways in which the TV landscape has changed in 2014, including the expansion of the Neilsen ratings system to finally include new media, really good new media content (“We saw the first crop of streaming shows as good as premium cable.”), and a decline in reality TV ratings (praise emoji!).

Basically my notebooks are filled with charts and images like this. I need formula. You may not, but I do.

TV is formula. I know this and Noah Charney over on The Atlantic is learning this. People always say to just sit down and write, but I need formula. Formula isn’t bad. One you learn a formula, if you’re the rebellious type, then you do what you want and break the formula. But I need structure when I write. I’ve been learning that my problem with actually sitting down to write is that there are too many possibilities. I am overwhelmed. So I come up with one way to tell the story, but then am paralyzed because what if another way is better? What if I get seven pages in a things aren’t working, do I start over with another direction? Or just go back a page and change things there? There are too many possibilities. Charney’s article breaks down the sitcom into bits and pieces and uses my current favorite sitcom as an example. (I need to compare this article to my 2/3rds written Parks and Recreation spec script and see if I can finally figure out Act 3, even if the show isn’t usable as a spec anymore.)

Finally, here’s some much needed inspiration on actually calling myself a writer:

When can you call yourself a writer in private?

Now. Absolutely right now.

Tell yourself in the mirror before you brush your teeth, then again when you’re driving home from work.

Say it so many times that you get exasperated looks from your spouse. Heck, get business cards printed, too. [<– totally did that!]

When can you call yourself a writer in public?

The answer to this question is also now — but this is a different matter altogether. The reason you want to take this step immediately in public is to apply pressure to yourself. [<– Mhm! The pressure is real! And works!]

The author goes on to say, “So don’t refer to yourself as a writer in public until you have a plan to deal with follow-up questions.” Those questions include: “What are you working on?” “Where can I read it?” He says to be confident, if you’re not confident in your answer to these questions, then you’re not ready to call yourself a writer in public.

[T]he sooner you start calling yourself a writer in private and in public, and the sooner you create a website and business cards, the sooner you will realize your career choice is a serious endeavor and demands your time and attention.

And that is what will drive you to sit down, put in the hard work and create.

That’s why I changed the name of my blog and made the business cards (I need new ones with my updated URL, but I still have so many of the old ones!), I am trying to treat writing as a serious venture, worthy of my time and attention, which will (and has) inspire me to write more and more and more.

Hmm, this week’s clicks gave me a lot to talk about. These weekly articles are a great way to get me writing and discussing things that I might not have otherwise.

Happy 2015!

Constar Clicks

[I did say it might be less than every two weeks… I’ll blame every article on the media being about the Movie That Must Not Be Named for nearly an entire week.]

Okay, so these Clicks posts are becoming little Jane the Virgin shrines, but I don’t particularly care when it’s one of my favorite shows on television. Here’s post on Jane’s honesty as her superpower in a show (and a world) full of liars. And here’s another piece on Jane, an interview with showrunner Jennie Urman in HuffPo’s Latino Voices.

If my blog were her locker, it’d be 75% pictures of this show. The other 25%? Scandal and Arrow/The Flash probz.

But before this becomes a Jane the Virgin only blog (it kinda is anyway), there’re non-Jane related clicks too!

I’m gonna miss Stephen Colbert and the Colbert Report. I’m super sad Letterman isn’t retiring until May (I really thought it’d be earlier in the year), but perhaps it’s 5+ months for Stephen to do awesome things he won’t have time to do once he takes over Late Show, like maybe host SNL? In the meantime, here are some times Stephen’s broken character, rare but hilarious and adorable.

Annie‘s out this weekend, and while I haven’t seen it yet, it’s so important that Quvenzhane gets to play her. I wrote recently about my quote in Bitch Magazine regarding the movie as well.

In other movie news, Film Fatale urges director Angeline Jolie not to white wash Cleopatra, as has been done countless times in the past.

 Similar to my Midseason Diversity Check-in is Shadow and Act’s “Best Black Television of 2014,” mentioning the network TV shows with breakout black characters this season.

“For the first television season in a long time a lot of hubbub has been made about diversity on television, primarily on the major networks. While there has been a greater emergence of one or two Black characters on various shows over the past few years – in some cases token characters, but most often not really – the major difference for the new 2014-15 television season is that many of the hyped shows are headlined by very recognizable Black talent and in a few cases also produced and created by Black talent.  There is another difference – a lot of them are really good!”

I used to compile similar links posts for Amanda Pendolino’s blog The Aspiring TV and Screenwriter. So it’s great to see this interview with her on Maximum Z blog on how she became a script reader and things she looks for in a good script.

7. What are the 3 most important rules every writer should know?

-Writing is rewriting. Don’t send a script out until it’s ready.

-Read scripts and watch TV/movies voraciously.

-One single script probably won’t launch your career. Sometimes the best thing to do is move on and write a new script.

Betsy Beers and Shonda Rhimes

Betsy Beers and Shonda Rhimes, creative dream team

This article in the Hollywood Reporter talks about what it takes to get a job in Shondaland. Everyone wants to be Shonda Rhimes, but sometimes I think I want to be Betsy Beers. It seems she does a lot the behind the scenes work that lets Shonda focus on writing, but doesn’t get the bad press when the public doesn’t like certain things. “Beers, who also identified Scandal inspiration Judy Smith as a potential storytelling vehicle for Rhimes, says she looks for depth and three-dimensionality when she reads scripts for potential Shondaland vehicles.”

It seems like a lovely and educationally gratifying work environment:

“Across the board, there’s opportunity to grow yourself as an artist,” Wilson says. “We have our script supervisor that directs and also acts on the show. One of our grips is a director on the show now. Two of our editors, three of our writers, there’s such opportunity for movement if you can really appreciate where you are and soak that in. The writers constantly move from position to position every season; I don’t know if other universes work that way but ours certainly does and I really appreciate that.”

I’d really appreciate that too! I would of course love to benefit from such an environment, but I also love looking out for people in that way myself. seeing the potential in them and giving them a nudge in the right direction. Sometimes I feel like I am not the person meant to be a big name, but the person behind that person. But maybe that’s just the introvert and fear in me talking. But it’d be nice to have the careers of either one of these game changing women.

And finally, get your friends who are Parks and Recs fans this tasty looking Waffle Keyboard. It won’t come in time for Christmas, but maybe for premiere or finale parties?

keyboard shaped waffle

Leslie Knope wouldn’t know if she should type an acceptance speech or reach for the whipped cream.

Link: Stephanie Beatriz on Why Diverse Casts Are Needed on TV | Latina Roles on TV & Movies

Stephanie Beatriz on Why Diverse Casts Are Needed on TV | Latina Roles on TV & Movies

Stephanie Beatriz on Why Diverse Casts Are Needed on TV | Latina Roles on TV & Movies

Everyone PLEASE read this awesome blog post by actress Stephanie Beatriz on Latina.com. I love Brooklyn 99, not only because it’s funny and it’s so similar to Parks and Recreation (same showrunner, so duh on that part), but because it’s so diverse and tries to actually look like a New York police station. The fact that there are TWO black men and TWO Latina women on the show feels like a first on network TV (psh, cable even) and it shouldn’t. But it is and the fact that Stephanie didn’t think she had another shot on the show after Melissa Fumero was cast is absolutely ridiculous but completely indicative of how the business works for people of color.

I am so glad that there are two Latina women on the show and the one is the main love interest and neither are made to be stereotypes of their culture, they just are and they don’t compete for men or attention, they coexist like real human beings. Just the fact that they’re both on the show and have such different personalities is fantastic because it immediately disproves the idea that people of color can only fulfill one type at a time on any given show. Brooklyn 99 just makes me really happy and I am glad that in this dwindling age of network comedy, it’s a beacon of hope for both a brilliant, hilarious show, but also for the future of what television will look like. I quoted Stephanie below, but click through for more of her blog posts.

When I was waiting to hear about my screen test for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I started looking at Deadline.com constantly. It’s a website that often posts up to the minute casting news, and is pretty handy during pilot season if you want to drive yourself absolutely bananas. I checked it, at minimum, eight times an hour. I was a woman possessed, because this show was the thing I wanted more than anything in the world. And then I saw that Melissa Fumero had been cast as Amy Santiago on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and I felt my guts roll up into my throat and try to escape out of my mouth. Omgomgomgomg that’s it then. There’s no way in hell a major network is gonna cast two Latina actresses in such a tight ensemble show I AM SCREWED.

And then next day my agents called and told me I’d booked it.

I couldn’t believe it. I had been saying to my boyfriend the night before how there was JUST NO WAY. Normally, The Latina is a singular element of the ensemble she is working in. She’s there to provide contrast, or sexuality, or humor. Or she’s there to clean the floors and/or steal your man. There are some serious stereotypes very much alive in film and TV today, and The Latina is one of them.

Here’s the thing though. The world is changing. Slowly but surely, television is changing. The character stereotypes are changing, or being turned inside out by some fantastic writers and actors (I’m looking at you, Orange is the New BlackScandal, and The Mindy Project). People of color are on TV playing roles that are fleshed out, complex, human. And yes, some of those characters are maids. Some are sexy heartbreakers there to steal your man. Some own BBQ joints, while some are Chiefs of Staff. Some are prisoners, and some are cops. All are real people with hopes, dreams, ambitions, fears, and all the other vast human emotions and desires.

Right now, you can turn on your television or log onto your Netflix or Hulu account and SEE YOURSELF. Not always, and maybe not as much as you’d like, but you can. You can find characters who look like you. I couldn’t do that very often when I was a kid, and it subtly informed me that I might be kind of unimportant. Thank God for Luis and Maria (Sonia Manzano and Emilio Delgado) on Sesame Street, who were the first Latinos on TV I ever saw. I was fascinated by them both, and remember thinking how lucky I was that my mom looked just like Maria. I watched Sesame Street into junior high, simply because I loved seeing Maria and Luis on TV. In fact, in my memory, PBS was one of the only places I regularly saw people of all races on my television.

This is important. Because young women are watching TV, and they are getting messages about who they are in the world, who the world will allow them to be. And in big important steps, television is showing a reflection back to those young women that YOU CAN BE WHATEVER THE HELL YOU DAMN WELL PLEASE, and that two Latinas on one show is NORMAL. I think that’s a win for everybody. 

–Stephanie Beatriz