Saturday, July 30, 2005

Coronation Street - the 1970s

True Corrie fans can now buy a 10 DVD box set of episodes from 1970-79. In The Guardian, Grace Dent says that this is the period when the show began to really shine.
Although Coronation Street first hit our screens in December 1960, its wasn't until the 1970s that it truly began to shine. With its reliable blend of steely, gobby northern women (Bet Lynch, Elsie Tanner, Rita Fairclough), downtrodden blokes (Stan Ogden, Eddie Yates, Len Fairclough) and its ambling tales of everyday mundanity, Corrie painted a picture of 70s working class life that Britain simply "got". A land where women had big lacquered hair-dos, fake-fur coats and endlessly nudged bosoms. Where, for the average man, heaven was a pint of Newton & Ridley, chips out of the newspaper and an hour's rest from his wife's endless quacking.
If you prefer the very early days, you can also buy a DVD of the first twelve episodes.

Treasury consults on film tax breaks

The Treasury has published a consultation document on the future of tax incentives for the British film industry.
The consultation, Reform of Film Tax Incentives: Promoting the sustainable production of culturally British films, reflects the Government'’s view that more can be done to encourage effective and sustained investment while providing better value for money for the British taxpayer and the film-going public. The proposed new reliefs are designed to meet their core aim of promoting the sustainable production of culturally British films more effectively while creating an attractive environment for international studios to invest in UK talent and production. They also reflect the need to comply with EU requirements on state aid in relation to the promotion of culture.

UK Film Council Chief Executive Officer John Woodward said the proposals represent a "totally new approach" to tax relief for film.
"The new tax credit system will continue to provide a subsidy for British films but also offers the potential to help build British film businesses by encouraging investment in slates of films rather than single projects."

Friday, July 29, 2005

101 greatest screenplays

The two American writers' guilds have joined forces to create a poll to find the 101 greatest screenplays of all time, as voted for by their membership.

Members may vote for up to ten screenplays, and any produced screenplay, English-language or otherwise, is eligible. Results will be tabulated and released in October 2005 at ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles.

More details fro the Writers Guild of America, west. or the Writers' Guild of America, East.

WGAw launches "showrunner school"

With support from major television networks and studios, the Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw) announces the launch of the first-ever Showrunner Training Program to help promising writers develop the skills necessary to become successful showrunners. Providing an overview of key principles and practices of effective showrunning by industry experts, the program will address the wide range of issues and challenges involved in steering a television series from pre-production through post. The new program aims to promote an industry culture that supports training newer writers in the behind-the-scenes knowledge necessary to emerge as effective showrunners.
More from the WGAw.

Avignon theatre festival

This year's Avignon theatre festival is taking a beating from critics and audiences alike, reports The New York Times.
In an editorial, Figaro declared the festival in crisis. "It is chic, it is hip, it is conceptual," the paper said, "and it is totally cut off from the real country."

Slush pile superstars

The Daily Telegraph (free registration required) looks at how the big publishers are trying to widen their search for new talent.
On the first day of my new job in the editorial department of a small publishing house, I found a note from my predecessor. "Open all unsolicited manuscripts," it read. "Log them in the slush pile book. Read them and reject them." It was 1984.

Twenty-one years later, the climate appears to be changing. Publishers are increasingly alert to sources of undiscovered gems that in the past might have slipped through the net. The slush pile is one, word of mouth another, as well as books being launched by risk-taking small or independent publishers. Some of these titles are successful in their own right, while others are taken up by mainstream publishers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tarantino on CSI

Quentin Tarantino has been nominated for the Best Drama Director Emmy Award for his episode of CSI. Ray Richmond in The Hollywood Reporter, talks to him about directing and writing for TV.
"I wanted to make the 'CSI' feel like a movie, but it was also important that I not take more time than any other director," Tarantino, who also had a hand in writing the script and who came up with the story idea, says. "TV is a lot less precious about stuff. In a series, if you like the first take, that's it, move on. It's also such a different dynamic to be working with actors who have been playing the same characters for five years and know them inside-out."

He was surprised that his input was welcomed so readily. "I'd see the script for a scene and I'd take it, do some rewriting and kind of sheepishly sneak it back in. Then they'd be really excited to have me rewriting. That was, like, their game plan all along."

Disability on screen

Over on the main Writers' Guild website Sophie Weaver reports from a seminar about writers and disability.
When it comes to content, at the crux of it all is the issue of representation and portrayal of disability. In response to the question of whether disability should be shown full on, or in the background, most felt that disability is never about one thing. Disability can be a catalyst for other issues within a storyline.

It was generally felt that although it would be great if disability could be shown incidentally, there is still a need to write specifically about disability in order for us to move forward towards disability being more mainstream. At present the industry is in a transitional stage trying to move forward.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Emmerdale closing on EastEnders

ITV1's Emmerdale is closing in on BBC1's EastEnders in the battle to be the UK's number two rated soap behind Coronation Street, reports Media Guardian (free registration required).
On Monday an email was sent round to all ITV staff by the Granada head of drama, John Whiston, which highlighted the fact that in the battle of the soaps, Emmerdale was closing the gap on its BBC1 rival.

"About three years ago we said that there would come a day when Emmerdale overtook EastEnders and became the number two soap in Britain. It was just one of those things you say, like I bet Liverpool are going to win the Champions League. Be nice, but you don't really expect it to actually happen," he said in the leaked memo.

"Well, with the story team on fire, the writers charging along brilliantly, a fantastic production team and a cast to die for, all I can say is... watch this space."

According to official audience figures, in June 2004 there was a difference of six percentage share points between the performance of Emmerdale and EastEnders. But by June 2005 this had been reduced to less than two.

And for the last month Emmerdale has been running at an average of one percentage share point behind EastEnders.

Godot almighty

Fifty years after the first production, Simon Callow in The Guardian looks at the history and influence of Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot.
Now that its influence has begun to wane, and it ceases to remind us of its imitations, we can again see the most influential play of the second half of the 20th century for what it is. Waiting for Godot has lost none of its power to astonish and to move, but it no longer seems self-consciously experimental or obscure. With unerring economy and surgical precision, the play puts the human animal on stage in all his naked loneliness. Like the absolute masterpiece it is, it seems to speak directly to us, to our lives, to our situation, while at the same time appearing to belong to a distant, perhaps a non-existent, past.

Lulu - online self-publishing

Lulu is the latest venture of Bob Young, the Canadian entrepreneur who founded Red Hat, the Linux software company that has mounted a serious challenge to Microsoft. Lulu’s website allows authors to upload their manuscripts and edit them on-screen. When they are happy with the text, they can publish it, either electronically or as a conventional book.

The key is technology from Xerox that allows authors, via Lulu, to print single copies of books at a time. This avoids the risks of inventory and remainders. Young said authors would receive 80% of the profit on any sales made via the website — far more than the royalties a conventional publisher would offer them.
More from Paul Durman in The Sunday Times.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Online marketing for books

More success stories about low budget online marketing campaigns, in The Book Standard.

Arthur Crook 1912-2005

Arthur Crook, former editor of The Times Literary Supplement (TLS), has died. There is an obituary in The Times.
From 1945 the TLS was edited by Stanley Morison, whose friend and executor Crook became. Morison, having given the TLS a new authority and taken its circulation up to about 49,000, retired in 1947 in favour of his nominee, Alan Pryce-Jones, and in 1951 Crook was promoted to assistant editor. Morison’s policies were carried on, but with greater light-heartedness and in a more international context: something that entailed frequent foreign excursions by Pryce-Jones, who left his assistant more and more in charge of the paper. Crook’s own appointment as Editor came in 1959.

Crook set out to be a non-writing editor, and he widened and strengthened the team of outside reviewers. Recognising the growing specialisation of scholars, as well as the swelling output of serious books, he started finding experts to cover even the most obscure fields. They in turn found an editor who was scrupulous and tactful, who saw that their corrections were made and their libels painlessly removed. Their own books were reviewed and their reviews, if likely to be a shock, were sent to them before the public saw them.

Amazon "Search Inside!"

There's been a lot of controversy recently about's Search Inside facility, which allows searches of the text of more than 125,000 books.

There's been a lot of controversy about the service (see Robert McCrum in The Observer) with some warning that if people can search the text of books online for free then they will have no incentive to buy that book.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Grade: no more repeats

BBC chairman Michael Grade has pledged that there will be no repeats on BBC1 or BBC2 in ten years time, reports BBC News. Licence payers expect new programmes for their money, he said.

However, repeats are likely to survive on digital channels.

TMA Awards expanded

Managers, backstage and front of house staff will for the first time be recognised at this year’s restructured Theatrical Management Association Awards.

The awards, which have been running since 1991, will now be split into two separate categories - the TMA Theatre Awards and the TMA Management Awards. The theatrical prizes will continue to be presented at the annual ceremony in October, while the new set, for those involved offstage, will be allocated at the organisation’s conference in November.
More from Alistair Smith in The Stage.

Monday, July 18, 2005

50 years of the theatre that inspired Ayckbourn

He nurtured one of Britain's most prolific playwrights and breathed new life into the dying art of theatre. Fifty years ago this week, the maverick director Stephen Joseph opened a theatre in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, which had a far-reaching impact on the dramatisation of plays across the country.
More from Louise Jury in The Independent.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The BBC in Birmingham

In The Stage, Maggie Brown goes behind the scenes at the new BBC "drama village" in Birmingham.
While the BBC centrally is agonising over the right development deal for its strategic move for sport, new media and children's television to Manchester by 2009, the much less high-profile executives in Birmingham have forged a creative partnership with Birmingham University and just got on with it.

They are patently pleased with their “very accessible” new headquarters, on a previously under-used part of Birmingham University'’s more far-flung college campus, West Hill, off Bristol Road, in Selly Oak, a £10 taxi ride from New Street station.

Friday, July 15, 2005

King’s Head founder Crawford dies

Dan Crawford, the founder and artistic director of the King's Head Theatre in north London has died aged 62. There's a brief obituary by Jeremy Austin in The Stage.
The eccentric, maverick personality is thought of by many as the father of the capital city's fringe theatre scene. The Islington venue became the first pub theatre when it was set up in 1970. It became an important first step in the careers of many of todayÂ’s finest performers - John Sessions, Hugh Grant, Victoria Wood and various members of the Monty Python team all performed there early on in their careers.

Under Crawford's guiding hand, the venue has won numerous awards and has transferred more than 30 productions to the West End, eight national tours and six Broadway transfers - meaning more than one in ten shows transfers.

"Not All Of Us Are Rowling In It"

One hard-up group of literary toilers said "Huh?" when the bookshop chain Waterstone's waxed lyrical this week about how the Harry Potter phenomenon had helped to make their fortunes.

The group was JK Rowling's fellow children's authors, a third of whom earn less than the national minimum wage of £8,827 a year. And yesterday they published a survey of their own, claiming that some work for about 2p an hour.

Their survey, headed Not All Of Us Are Rowling In It, is released as talk of mega-million incomes was being bandied about in the build-up to Saturday's publication of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
More from John Ezard in The Guardian.

Fiction selling fiction

How publishers are using fake websites to sell novels, by Vauhini Vara in The Wall Street Journal.
The top results in a Google search for "Jayne Dennis" are a Web page with a photo of the B-list actress posing on a red carpet, and a fan site full of snapshots and gossip about Ms. Dennis's relationship with actor Keanu Reeves.

The twist: Jayne Dennis doesn't exist -- not in the real world, at least. She is a figment of writer Bret Easton Ellis's imagination and a character in his upcoming novel, "Lunar Park." The woman pictured on is actually a model, and readers who click around on the site can eventually find a link to the publisher's official site for the book.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Plug pulled on black theatre plan

Plans to build the UK's first black theatre centre have stalled after millions of pounds worth of essential funding was pulled by the Arts Council.

The organisation said it withdrew £4m from the Talawa Theatre company's scheme due to "organisational weakness and financial viability".

Talawa, which has been in existence for 21 years, said they were "disappointed and dismayed" with the decision.

The Arts council say they will redirect the funds to help black theatre.

A report into the best way of funding a theatre in the future has been commissioned by the organisation.
More from BBC News.

WGGB & The List magazine Fringe Awards 2005

Top comedy writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran (Goodnight Sweetheart, Birds Of A Feather) will be among the judges of three new awards designed to celebrate the best writers on the Edinburgh Fringe 2005.

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and The List magazine will be presenting the awards with cash prizes and first option TV deals to the winners.

The awards will be for Best New Drama (this will be a narrative theatre show), Best New Comedy (this could be a play, a new stand-up show or a sketch show) and Best Newcomer (this could be the writer and/or performer of any of the above.)

The winners will be announced on Tuesday 23 August. Eligibility is defined by Fringe brochure entry.


1. The show must be a World or European premiere as defined in the Fringe programme.

2. No show can be considered unless it appears in the Fringe programme.

3. It must be on for at least 14 days of the Festival (including previews)

4. It must be on at least once between August 1 and 13.

5. Free shows are ineligible.

6. Shows featuring more than one stand-up are ineligible, where solo-stand-up is the main component of the show.

7. Whilst every effort will be made to see every show that qualifies, we cannot guarantee that this will be achieved in the small amount of time we have to do this.

8. The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and The List magazine are unable to enter into any correspondence with anyone representing the eligible shows.

Mass resignations at the Open College of Arts

There has been a mass resignation of 30+ writers, creative writing tutors at the Open College of the Arts (OCA), ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for the signing of new – and totally unacceptable - annual contracts.

Many of those refusing to renew their contracts with the OCA cite the organisation’s lack of respect for them as writers and experienced tutors, and the management’s refusal to discuss issues of concern as the reason they no longer feel valued by the distance learning college.

Today’s dramatic demonstration of frustration and disappointment – some of the tutors concerned have been with the OCA since its inception over fifteen years ago – has come at the end of a protracted period during which concerted attempts have been made to resolve these issues.

Many letters, including from the Guild and the National Association of Writers (NAWE), have been sent conveying the grave disquiet expressed by many of these tutors and attempting to open discussions with the OCA.

All to no avail.

Yesterday the Writers’ Guild sent a joint letter with NAWE and the Society of Authors to OCA board members supporting the decision of the tutors concerned, expressing our disappointment that such drastic action has been the end result, and hoping that the OCA will be able to apply procedures to avoid such action being required in the future.

Any Guild members considering working for the OCA are advised to contact Christine Paris at the Guild office.

BBC1 Autumn season

Adaptations will play a major part in the BBC 1 schedules this autumn, with Shakespeare and Dickens to the fore.

Bleak House, adapted by Andrew Davies, will be shown twice a week in half-hour episodes - "giving today's viewers all the pace, multiple storylines and gripping cliff hanger endings of the original text."

David Nicholls has adapted Much Ado About Nothing, Peter Bowker has re-imagined A Midsummer Night's Dream as a surreal weekend away at a holiday park, Peter Moffat has tackled Macbeth, while Sally Wainwright has written a version of The Taming Of The Shrew where Kate is a scheming MP.

However, Media Guardian (free registration required), says that the schedule is open to criticism for being overwhelmingly white and middle class, just days after the
BBC governors' criticism of BBC1 for being "too focused on middle-class suburbia".

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

BBC Execs get 25% pay rise

BBC executives accepted bonuses of up to 25% of their salaries last year, despite the threat of redundancy looming over thousands of BBC workers.

Director general Mark Thompson waived his right to a bonus, saying "it just wouldn't have felt right".

Broadcasting unions accused the BBC of "corporate greed" amid the cutbacks.
More from BBC News.

Monday, July 11, 2005

IFTA 2005 - call for entries

The Irish Film & Television Awards (IFTA) 2005 call for entries is now open. For downloads & details visit

Deadline for nominations 2 August 2005. Awards Ceremony 5 November 2005.

TAPS in Wales

TAPS (Training and Performance Showcase), the national charitable scheme, is looking for writers from Wales for their Regional Shorts Workshop course.

From all scripts submitted, TAPS chooses 30 writers to attend a weekend workshop where their scripts will be assessed and they will be tutored by industry professionals.

The 30 writers are then given the chance to rewrite their scripts from which 6 writers are invited to have their work Showcased. The Showcase element of the course will allow the writer to see their developed script come to life as it is performed and recorded by a professional Director, Producer, Actors and Studio Crew.

The filmed showcase is then screened later in the year in London, at no further cost to the writer, and is eligible for consideration for the TAPS Writer of the Year Awards.

Submission deadline for writers to apply to the course is July 25th, with the workshop to be held in September. Scripts may be submitted in English or Welsh.

For an application form or further information go to or
call Mark Brennan on 01932 592151.

The inclusive Course Fee is £100 + VAT

Beyond the DVD

Hollywood is split over which pst-DVD technology to support, reports Ken Belson in The New York Times. Should it be Blu-ray or HD DVD?
To everyone's regret, the studios are split over which group to support. Sony's studio and Disney, with 39 percent of the DVD market, back the Blu-ray group that includes Sony, Panasonic, Hewlett-Packard and others. Warner, Universal and Paramount, with 43 percent of the market, support the HD-DVD standard developed by Toshiba and NEC.

The Godfather game

Behind the scenes of The Godfather computer game, with Seth Schiesel in The New York Times.
Certainly, accumulating respect will be a key part of the game play. (The team's internal distillation of the game is: "Join the Family. Earn Respect. Become the Godfather.") But more broadly, the Godfather team seems to be approaching this multimillion-dollar project as a high-stakes opportunity to earn some respect not only for itself but also for the entire notion of gaming.

What ultimately sets gaming apart from prefabricated media like television and books is that the consumer is in control of the action; the consumer is the protagonist of whatever story the game might tell. So rather than slavishly direct the player through a linear recreation of the first "Godfather" film, the E.A. team is essentially using the famous scenes and characters to create a wide-ranging virtual universe in which players can create their own narratives.

"We are well aware that we are dealing with probably the most beloved, most iconic film of all time," said Nick Earl, general manager of the Redwood City studio. "We are also well aware that some people get nervous when you start messing with something they love so much, and that a lot of games based on movies have been poorly received by hard-core gamers. We want to show that you can make a great game that stands on its own merits that also draws from such a rich book and movie like 'The Godfather.' "

Lloyd Webber sells and refurbishes

Theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber is to spend £10m on refurbishing his West End theatres after selling part of his stage empire.

He has sold four of his London theatres to Broadway producer Max Weitzenhoffer.

The 56-year-old composer plans to spend £10m on his eight remaining theatres, which include the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and the London Palladium.

The theatres are part of Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group, which produces and controls his shows around the world.

Weitzenhoffer and Nica Burns - who is currently production director of Really Useful Theatres - will take over the ownership and management of the Apollo, the Duchess, the Lyric and the Garrick theatres from 1 October.
More from BBC News.

Friday, July 08, 2005

New BBC comedy will debut on broadband

BBC Three is to premiere comedy series The Mighty Boosh [ written by and starring Julian Barratt and Noel Fieldin] on the internet before it is broadcast on television.

The second series of the show will premiere via broadband from 19 July - a week before it is shown on television.

It will be the first in a number of BBC Three comedies that will be shown first via the internet.

Jana Bennett, director of television at the BBC, said it was a "significant step" in offering audiences greater value in a changing television world.
The full story is on BBC News.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Guild offices

The Guild's offices are closed today, due to the major terrorist incident in London earlier this morning.

All staff are safe and fully accounted for, thankfully.

Update 08/07/05: The office is now open and almost back to normal. However, the e-bulletin might be delayed until Monday.

Written By - Summer 2005

The Summer 2005 issue of Written By, the magazine of the Writers Guild of America, west, has been published.

Selected contents are available online, including selected scripts submitted by WGAw members for Written By's annual Unproduced Comedies collection.

Equal opportunities charter

The Writers' Guild has joined organisations including Channel 4, BBC Films, Pact, and Skillset in signing up to the UK Film Council's new charter promoting equal opportunities both behind the camera and on-screen.
The UK Film Council has set up a Leadership on Diversity forum to help producers, distributors, financiers, cinema owners and film agencies set out a framework for action to realise the opportunities from diversity in the film workforce, whilst encouraging more audiences to enjoy a greater range of films.

Ernest Lehman

The screenwriter Ernest Lehman has died at the age of 89.

Lehman's credits include original screenplays for North By Northwest and Sabrina and adaptations of West Side Story, The Sound Of Music and Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
Lehman received six Academy Award nominations - four for his screenplays and two in the category of best picture - and also earned nine WGA Award nominations, winning the guild's top honor five times. In 2001, Lehman was recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when he became the first screenwriter awarded an honorary Oscar, for his "varied and enduring work."

"I accept this rarest of honors on behalf of screenwriters everywhere, but especially those in the Writers Guild of America," he said onstage. "We have suffered anonymity far too often. I appeal to all movie critics and feature writers to please always bear in mind that a film production begins and ends with a screenplay.
More from The Hollywood Reporter.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Film academies

A new network of film academies to educate and train new filmmaking talent was announced today by Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for the audio visual industries, reports the UK Film Council.

Seven academies in England, Scotland, and Wales, will share over £5m funding and will work together to provide new courses (including the first ever film MBA), summer schools, work placements, master classes, bursaries, online learning resources and a talent scout programme to help develop the brightest and the best from the next generation.

The Network is made up of:

  • The Screen Academy at the Arts Institute Bournemouth & Bournemouth Media School
  • The Screen Academy at London College of Communication / UAL and Ealing Institute of Media / EHWLC
  • The Screen Academy at Napier University & Edinburgh College of Art
  • The Screen Academy at The Film Academy (University of Glamorgan) & International Film School Wales (University of Wales Newport)
  • The Screen Academy at the London Film School
  • The Screen Academy at the National Film & Television School
  • The Film Business Academy at Cass Business School

Radio indies can keep copyright

In a ground-breaking deal the BBC has handed independent radio production companies the copyright to their own programmes in new terms of trade.

Until now the BBC has owned programmes commissioned from independents - such as Somethin' Else and Unique - outright. But in a reversal of its terms of trade the BBC will now license programmes for 10 years.

The companies got together to form a trade body - the Radio Independents Group - specifically to renegotiate terms of trade with the BBC, in a bid to get on a equal footing with the television sector.

RIG was unable to negotiate the five-year licence period the BBC has in place for TV indies - although there will be a break clause after five years if the BBC does not intend to use programmes for any public service use.

The trade body said the 10-year-deal was "fair" and "very exciting". It took six months to negotiate.

The BBC deal will only cover the UK so radio independents will be able to sell their programmes and formats abroad, creating new revenue streams.
More from Julia Day on Media Guardian (free registration required)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

National TV Awards

Voting has opened for the National Television Awards. There are 13 categories, including Best Drama and Best Serial Drama.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Legal film downloads

After years of avoiding it, Hollywood studios are preparing to let people download and buy electronic copies of movies over the Internet, much as record labels now sell songs for 99 cents through Apple Computer's iTunes music store and other online services.

The movie industry has in years past made half-hearted attempts to let people rent a small number of movies online, but the rapidly growing use of Internet video, both legal and pirated, is prompting it to create more robust download options and to consider online business models it dismissed as recently as a year ago.

The studios have been working for months to confront the technological and business challenges of digital sales. Those initiatives gained new urgency on June 27 when the Supreme Court ruled that companies distributing software that allows users to trade pirated copies of audio and video files are liable for copyright infringement only if they induce users to break the law.

Sony, for example, is converting 500 movie titles to a digital format that can be downloaded and sold. Universal Pictures, a unit of NBC Universal, which is 80 percent owned by General Electric and 20 percent owned by Vivendi Universal, is preparing nearly 200 titles for digital online sale. And Warner Brothers, a division of Time Warner, says it has already digitized most of its library of 5,000 films and will start selling some of them online later this year.
More, from Saul Hansell in The New York Times.

Gordon Wainwright

Gordon Wainwright, a long-standing member of the Writers' Guild who served on the Executive Council, died in his sleep on Thursday 30 June 2005, aged 68.

Gordon wrote about a dozen books, mostly dealing with business practices and self-help techniques, such as Headless Chickens Laidback Bears, Tricky Business Letters and Read Faster Recall More.

He lived in Sunderland and organised several Guild events for members in the North-East. He joined the Guild EC in 2004 and resigned only a few weeks ago.

The funeral will take place on 7 July. For more information please contact the Guild office.

Jon East appointed CBBC Head of Drama

Jon East has been appointed the new Children's BBC (CBBC) Head of Drama, it was announced today by CBBC's Controller Alison Sharman.

East's previous work has mainly been as a producer and director of series drama including EastEnders, Brookside, Bodies, New Tricks and Beaten. He replaces Elaine Sperber who left to join Disney last month.

More information is available from the BBC Press Office.

Alison Sharman herself is interviewed today in Media Guardian (free registration required).
A big priority for Sharman is more children's drama. "This is a golden age of drama - I think our drama has been good enough, but we can be even better. I want us to be world class. We have the opportunity to do that."

She says that CBBC has done well with Tracy Beaker, the adaptation of Jacqueline Wilson's care home heroine - about to have a fifth run - and with Kerching, and adaptations from Feather Boy to Stig of the Dump. "I will move the money around, to make more drama. I feel passionately about it."

Shan Khan interviewed

Playwright and scriptwriter Shan Khan is interviewed in The Independent ahead of the opening of his new play, The Prayer Room, in Edinburgh next month.
Khan's first play, The Office – a grubby comedy about drug dealers operating out of a phone box in King's Cross, which won a Verity Bargate Award in 2001 – also premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, but he has upped the stakes with the satirical tone of Prayer Room. The play can partly be seen as an inverted analogy for events in the Middle East – in the course of promoting their cause, everyone is guilty of religious intolerance and, to a degree, moral hypocrisy. Essentially, though, Khan wanted the play to do two crucial things. By placing three different cultures side by side in a hot-house environment, he wanted to present a vivid portrait of multicultural Britain living not in discrete ethnic ghettos but cheek by jowl. "TV execs [Khan is also a Bafta nominated scriptwriter] ask me to write a multicultural play; what they actually want is a drama about a black barbershop in Hackney," says Khan, who was born in Scotland to Asian parents and lives in London. "That's not multicultural: that's about one culture living inside another country. All that does is feed the goldfish-bowl mentality. Look on the Tube, look at where you live: the real drama lies in how different cultures interact."

Blogging while you work

Rather than work in isolation, some writers are maintaining blogs about books-in-progress, reports Tania Ralli in The New York Times.
Authors who have experimented with blogging in this way - and there are still only a handful - say they hope to create a sense of community around their work and to keep fans informed when a new book is percolating. The novelist Aaron Hamburger used his blog to write about research techniques he employed to set his coming book in Berlin ( Poppy Z. Brite, another novelist, has written about her characters on her blog as though they have a life of their own, not just the one springing from her imagination (

Christopher Fry 1907-2005

Christopher Fry, who has died, aged 97, was, with TS Eliot, the leading figure in the revival of poetic drama that took place in Britain in the late 1940s. His most popular play, The Lady's Not For Burning, ran for nine months in the West End in 1949. But although Fry was a sacrificial victim of the theatrical revolution of 1956, he bore his fall from fashion with the stoic grace of a Christian humanist and increasingly turned his attention to writing epic films, most notably Ben Hur (1959).
More from Michael Billington in The Guardian.

The Daily Telegraph also has an obituary.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Godfather script sells for £175, 418

Marlon Brando's annotated script from his 1972 film The Godfather has been sold for $312,800 (£175,418) at a New York auction.

The script fetched more than 20 times its estimated price, and is the highest amount paid for a film script, auction house Christie's said.
More from BBC News.