FROM Janis Hirsch
Insights from writers facing distinct challenges This week, leftovers! We bring you three interesting conversations with previous guests--all writers--that we didn’t have time to air before. First up is TV comedy writer Janis Hirsch. Her sitcom credits include ‘Murphy Brown,’ ‘Frasier,’ and ‘Will & Grace.’ She joined us on the show last fall, in the early days of the #MeToo movement, and told us a powerful story: she lost a dream job on the Showtime series, ‘It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,’ after being severely harassed in the writer’s room. We also asked Hirsch about the lack of work for actors with disabilities. She had polio as an infant and walks with the help of crutches. According to the disability rights group Respectability, people with disabilities make up 20 percent of the population, but have almost no presence on screen. Of the roles that do exist for disabled characters--on television, 95 percent of the time, they’re played by an able-bodied actor. Next up, Armando Iannucci, the political satirist and creator of the HBO comedy ‘Veep.’ He recently spoke to us about his new film, ‘The Death of Stalin.’ I also asked him about his next movie: an adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel ‘David Copperfield.’ Iannucci is going to take some liberties with the source material--Dev Patel will play the title role--but I wanted to know what he would do about some of the novel’s least interesting characters. He tells us how when it comes to Dickens’ women, quite a bit of rewriting will be necessary. Finally, a short conversation with married couple Daniel Palladino and Amy Sherman-Palladino. The two came on the show to talk about Amazon’s ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ but earlier in their careers, they both worked on the hit sitcom ‘Roseanne,’ though at different times. I asked them what they thought of the news that in the new version of that show, the title character is a Trump supporter. Roseanne returns to ABC on March 27.
Personal accounts of sexual harassment in Hollywood In the weeks since the New York Times and the New Yorker brought down Harvey Weinstein, women in Hollywood have continued to speak out. Two of those women recently wrote powerful personal essays for the Hollywood Reporter about their own experiences with discrimination and harassment in the industry. We asked them to share their stories on the show today. Krista Vernoff is the executive producer and showrunner of Grey's Anatomy on ABC. Several years ago, she was trying to cast a TV pilot. The choice was between two women. One clearly was the stronger actress and better for the role. Everyone agreed -- except the male network president. He said the other actress had a sexier build. One of his underlings -- a woman executive -- spoke up on behalf of the choice that everyone else had favored. Vernoff got the actress of her choice but two weeks later, that female executive was abruptly fired. Vernoff says fear of of retaliation and being labeled a "difficult woman" is one reason many women in Hollywood don't report discrimination or abuse. She shares some of her own experiences with gender bias, explains how the entire industry is in some way culpable and how Hollywood can change for the better going forward by increasing gender parity in jobs. Then, comedy writer Janis Hirsch tells us about a dream job turning into a nightmare. Hirsch started out working on Square Pegs in 1982. Her sitcom credits include Murphy Brown, Frasier and Will & Grace, and she continues to have a very busy career -- she's currently working on a pilot for CBS. Following the Harvey Weinstein revelations, Hirsch wrote about getting hired to work for one of her comedy heroes, Garry Shandling, early in her career. She tells us how the harassment in the writer's room began and then escalated to a horrifying, traumatic incident. When the show's producer finally acknowledged there was a problem, Hirsch was shocked to learn his solution was for her to quit immediately. Hirsch shares why she told that story to everyone for years, and how owning the experience and making it funny has helped women writers who have followed in her footsteps.
'Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead' Looks at National Lampoon Saturday Night Live begins its 41st season this weekend, but there may have never have been an SNL if not for the National Lampoon. The outrageous satire magazine was founded by two Harvard students in 1969 and expanded into live shows, a radio show, records and finally, movies. Many of the people we know from SNL cut their teeth at the Lampoon. And even though it’s been gone for two decades, echoes of the magazine and its spin-offs still reverberate through the American comedy scene.
Morgan Parker: There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé Morgan Parker says that the poems in her book There Are Things More Beautiful than Beyoncé take a stand against the clichés of the dominant culture.
Hua Hsu: A Floating Chinaman Author Hua Hsu stops by to discuss his book A Floating Chinaman, recounting the life of 1930's actor/writer H.T. Tsiang and his struggles entering the American literary world.
Industry insights and lessons learned from memorable guests We have interesting guests on The Business, and sometimes our conversations are too long to fit into one show. This week we give you stories that were too good to leave on the cutting room floor, including some sharp insights on making it in the industry from David Mandel, David Simon, Shawn Levy and Matt Reeves.